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Small Town Horror by Ronald Malfi

 

 

 

 


 

Review

Coincidences occurring, sinister things, along with the 4th of July menacingly looming, marking an anniversary of a dreaded secret fate past but never dead re-emerging.
Maybe it’s too late for the truth to set them free?

The complexities and anxieties that something is afoot from realms of unseen interjecting into the characters lives ensuing a need to stay for the tales end, a novel of length, one of lucid nicely done storytelling keeping you immersed with trepidation through dreams, hallucinations, hauntings and the present, with things occurring upon on a group of five once upon a time teenage friends, in a small town, dealing with the past that is never dead and with what price they have to pay as fates shifting, a turning to a strain of macabre, a haunting and macabre metamorphosis of a few denizens of Kingsport.

The writing reminiscent of four authors that have penned similar tales those of Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, and Robert McCammon, if you enjoyed those authors you would enjoy this.

This is out now in June of 2024, would have been great to have a review out early as one had access to it, so many books and only so much time whilst life calls in other ways via slave of the money, ones striving to survive an adequate life, with the powers that be have where they want you, ensuing a more tired state at times and a slowing down and delaying great cathartic times enduring the reading musing and reviewing. But that will change, one hopes. I have not read enough of Malfi’s works and have many on my tbr for years waiting with joy and trepidation to be read.
Reading now Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay (review will be in link here maybe in few days time) another same publisher release, also reading it a little later than scheduled and enjoying it.

 

Excerpts

 

I took in the stained and tattered clothing, the red gouges along the twisted flesh of his arms, the grime-black hands, and the pasty, haunted expression on his gaunt face. His eyes were burnt fuses, and there was a disconcerting cluster of sores at one corner of his mouth. His feathery blond hair hung down to his shoulders, like some surfer boy’s, only dirty-looking and unkempt. “Who the fuck are you?” I said, my voice shaking. “Andrew,” said the man, holding both hands out like some religious statue on a mount. “It’s me, man. It’s Meach.”

“That’s just an urban legend from when we were kids, Meach. She was justa sad old woman who lost her son. She’s not a witch, she never was, and no one is cursed.”

My mind filled with innumerable baseless terrors—of stillbirths and nuchal cords and all manner of physiological defects. A dispossessed thing, large-eyed and staring, milky-blind, congealing in a forever soup inside my wife’s body. I envisioned a womb full of life one moment, vacant the next … as if a fetus was something as tenuous as a wish or a dream, and just as liable to disappear in the same fashion.

I’d spent the first eighteen years of my life in Kingsport—a small, insignificant creature bobbing along the whitecaps of this small, insignificant fishing and crabbing village, tucked behind fields of corn and wheat, bracketed by steel grain silos and CITGO gas stations, and flanked by the black-rock cliffs and brown, reedy beaches that comprised Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It was a waterman’s town, and nearly everyone who lived there made their living off the bay—crabbing, fishing, oystering, sailing. The crabbing and fishing boats would go out before dawn and return around suppertime, catch or no catch, and on quiet nights as a child, with my bedroom window open to let in whatever breeze there was to come on through, I could hear their mournful clanging down at the Kingsport Marina far across town. On clear nights, if you traveled the old Ribbon Road straight out to the cliffs of Gracie Point, you could see the lighthouse in the distance blazing like the finger of God in the middle of the bay; on foggy nights, it was still visible, only now as a smudgy cigarette burn poking dreamily through the misty veil.

He couldn’t say exactly when it started, because to some degree, it had always been there ever since that terrible night so long ago now. A haunting. A thing glimpsed in the periphery of his vision. A sensation that some sentient shadow was always just a few steps behind him, keeping tabs.

Did I believe in ghosts and witches’ curses? No, I did not. Yet had I been experiencing small, intimate confusions that I couldn’t rationally explain? I couldn’t deny that. And I couldn’t deny that they had only gotten stronger the closer we came to the twenty-year anniversary of Robert’s death.

“I don’t believe in any of this nonsense,” I said, though my voice to my own ears did not sound quite so convinced. “That poor old woman is not a witch and there is no curse on our heads. It’s just guilt. That’s all.”

This reality only made me feel worse. It was as though a part of me wanted—no, needed—to be held accountable. The guilt was killing me. I felt part of some deeper conspiracy, which I was, only with each passing day, the noose around my neck only grew tighter. It was guilt, coupled with the paralyzing fear of being caught for what we’d done.

My father was right about small towns: the cost is sometimes higher than the return, and secrets, much like the things that lurk far below the surface of the bay, can stay buried for a very, very long time. But in the end, everyone pays.

It’s almost twenty years to the day. The anniversary of Robert’s death looming just over the horizon. We’re all gonna pay now.

“Meach said something was after him,” Tig said. “After us. Not a someone, but a something. Robert’s ghost. Robert’s mother. A curse.”


 

About Small Town Horror

Five childhood friends are forced to confront their own dark past as well as the curse placed upon them in this horror masterpiece from the bestselling author of Come with Me.

Maybe this is a ghost story…

Andrew Larimer has left his past behind. Rising up the ranks in a New York law firm, and with a heavily pregnant wife, he is settling into a new life far from Kingsport, the town in which he grew up. But when he receives a late-night phone call from an old friend, he has no choice but to return home.

Coming home means returning to his late father’s house, which has seen better days. It means lying to his wife. But it also means reuniting with his friends: Eric, now the town’s deputy sheriff; Dale, a real-estate mogul living in the shadow of a failed career; his childhood sweetheart Tig who never could escape town; and poor Meach, whose ravings about a curse upon the group have driven him to drugs and alcohol.

Together, the five friends will have to confront the memories—and the horror—of a night, years ago, that changed everything for them.

Because Andrew and his friends have a secret. A thing they have kept to themselves for twenty years. Something no one else should know. But the past is not dead, and Kingsport is a town with secrets of its own.

One dark secret…

One small-town horror…

 


 

Praise For Small Town Horror

 

“Ronald Malfi is a talented storyteller known for the quality of his writing and the way he brings an element of elegance to the genre, and Small Town Horror – relentlessly creepy, unapologetically dark, and surprisingly heartfelt – might just be his best novel yet”
-Locus Magazine

Malfi refreshes a familiar horror trope—the surfacing of a long-hidden secret—with nuanced characterizations and a genuinely surprising reveal. Christopher Golden fans will be especially pleased.
-Publishers Weekly

“Malfi is horror’s Faulkner, and Small Town Horror might be his best novel yet. Stylish, dark, and with a haunting, salty atmosphere, this is a superb novel about how the ghosts of the past always dance with those of the present.”
-Gabino Iglesias, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award-winning author of The Devil Takes You Home

“Small Town Horror blends the sunburnt southern noir of S.A. Cosby with the homespun haunts of Raymond Bradbury, creating a brackish blend of sin-ridden horror unlike anything else scuttling across bookshelves today. Ronald Malfi is the Bard of Chesapeake Bay gothic and the outright brine of this beautifully terrifying book will be steeped into your subconscious forever.”
-Clay McLeod Chapman, author of What Kind of Mother and Ghost Eaters

“An eerie and deeply unsettling horror epic with faint shadows of Peter Straub and Robert R. McCammon flickering at the periphery .?.?. Small Town Horror is the kind of masterful and deftly written horror fiction that makes me fall in love with the genre all over again.”
-Eric LaRocca, Bram Stoker Award finalist, and author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

“This isn’t only Malfi’s masterpiece, it’s a heroic swing at the Great American Novel, and will be nakedly terrifying to anyone who’s been a kid—and to anyone who’s grown up with regret. This is heavyweight horror, a total knockout.”
-Daniel Kraus, New York Times bestseller and author of Whalefall

“Malfi is a masterful writer, a storyteller who has no interest in pulling punches or playing nice when it comes to his fiction, but Small Town Horror is a vicious, merciless assault; a relentless, passionate, nightmarish kaleidoscope of guilt and vengeance, witches and curses, murder and deception, with just enough supernatural mayhem to keep the whole thing feeling like a fever dream from hell. Buckle up kids, this is one you won’t soon forget.”
–Philip Fracassi, author of Boys in the Valley

“With strokes of King and shades of Jackson, Malfi burns bright in Small Town Horror.”
-Lindy Ryan, Bram Stoker Award-nominee and author of Cold Snap and Bless Your Heart

“Ronald Malfi is a gifted writer. You fear for his characters because they feel like people you know, ordinary people with dire secrets. Small Town Horror gives us broken people wrapped up in a past that won’t set them free, the kind of story Malfi has truly mastered. Nobody else can weave the kind of chilling, small-town horror story I grew up reading the way Malfi does. His writing is so strong and so of-the-moment that these horrors and fears tap into horror nostalgia while also feeling brand new. It’s some kind of magic trick, which makes Malfi one hell of a magician.”
-Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of The House of Last Resort and Road of Bones

“Damaged characters, dark secrets, and traumatic histories swirl in this haunting and beautifully written tale of a grim past that refuses to stay buried. Ronald Malfi is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, and Small Town Horror cements his reputation as one of the best horror writers working today.”
-Tim Lebbon, Among The Living

“As the Peter Straub of his generation, Ronald Malfi shines a poetic iridescence into the darkest corners of a speculative thriller, and Small Town Horror showcases the full range of his talent. Haunting, suspenseful, and just plain damn smart, it is everything Malfi fans have come to expect, cranked to full volume. People will be talking about this book all year.“
-Rebecca Rowland, author of White Trash & Recycled Nightmares

 


 

About Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of several horror novels, mysteries, and thrillers. He is the recipient of two Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award, the Vincent Preis Horror Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award for Popular Fiction, and he is a Bram Stoker Award nominee. Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. When he’s not writing, he’s fronting the rock band VEER.