What Do Monsters Fear follows Peter Laughlin, an ex-rock star plagued by alcoholism. Tired and fed up with life, he goes to a rehabilitation program to get clean for the sake of his friend and future mother of his child, Beth. Though he quickly befriends the few guests he is sharing with, Peter can’t help but feel uneasy: not everything is as it seems at Dawson Rehabilitation. The centre’s counsellor, Jerry Fisher, is hiding a dark secret, one which has Peter and the rest of his group fighting for their lives while facing their greatest fears against an ancient evil.
Originally published by Post Mortem Press, this edition of What Do Monsters Fear has been republished by Poltergeist Press. Matt Hayward is a Bram Stoker award nominated author (who we’ve reviewed before), and reading this book, it is clear to see why. Hayward writes this story with an expert hand, intricately weaving fear and intrigue together to make for a deliciously haunting read. The first half of the book may be a bit much to get through, especially opening up with the main character in the middle of an attempted suicide. However, as soon as the characters arrive at the rehab centre, this is where the ball begins to roll and where the plot comes into full strength, beginning with elements of mystery and developing into terror filled action that demands the reader’s attention.
Obviously, some readers may find this book difficult to read, as it deals with themes of addiction, depression and suicide. However, having the setting take place at a rehab centre is perfect, seeing as the characters are dealing with their own personal monsters while facing literal ones. Hayward tackles the idea of fear with a forceful and unapologetic narrative. A good portion of the fear comes from the realism, as Hayward mixes the supernatural in with fears which are all too human and frighteningly familiar.
It’s clear that What Do Monsters Fear takes inspiration from the writings of H.P Lovecraft, going as far as to referencing his work at points in the text, which is a little bit on the nose and can take the reader away from the text. However, unlike the monsters and old gods in his old tomes, Hayward’s Phobos – the god of fear who takes centre stage as the antagonist – comes off as comical at points, but still makes for an intimidating force for the heroes to face up to. Additionally, the main character Peter is a likeable character, fitting into the role of flawed hero perfectly, and Hayward give enough time to develop the other characters and move the plot along at a decent pace.
With compelling and relatable characters, a story that doesn’t take long to grab the reader’s attention and a formulaic but strong plot, and at an easily manageable size, What Do Monsters Fear is a must have for readers. It is clear to see the future of literary horror is in good hands.
Review copy provided
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What Do Monsters Fear is a short but gripping read. While some of the themes can be heavy for some readers, the plot and Hayward’s style of writing makes this a read that will hold you in its grip and refuse to let go until the conclusion.