Published by Samhain Publishing on 2nd December 2014
Pages: 195 pages
Buy on Amazon
A name that I’ve come across on numerous occasions at the harder core end of the horror continuum is Adam Cesare, and as such, I’ve long been looking to read something from his word processor. Not surprisingly then I jumped at the chance to do a pre-release review of his new short novel from Samhain Publishing.
Exponential opens with a simple man engaging in an act of kindness when he saves a rat from a lab where it is being experimented on, hoping to make a friend and save the small creature any further pain. It isn’t long before said rat undergoes an incredible change, turning into a kind of amorphous blob like creature that can can take different forms using the bones from the things it has eaten/subsumed into its structural mass, growing bigger as it feeds, and feeding awfully frequently as it heads out on a path that places Rose’s Tavern and a bunch of its patrons in harm’s way …
If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like either film version of The Blob (for the record, I count myself as a much bigger fan of the 1988 Chuck Russell version), you’d be right. It’s a fairly straight forward creature feature type of story. But the execution is excellent. Cesare switches points of view in each chapter, with the early fun being predicting which of the introduced characters will run into the creature and which of those will make it to Rose’s Tavern, only to then have to survive against the incessantly ravenous monster. Those that don’t more often than not end up meeting an entertaining end, and – be warned, those of a more sensitive disposition – Cesare does not skimp on descriptions of their gory demises. His characters are also engaging, with several being flawed but likeable, to the point where I was actually hoping they would make it out of the mess they found themselves in.
Before this review becomes too lavish in its praise, I should note the very end of Exponential did not quite live up to the standard set by the first 85%. It’s satisfying enough, but I would have liked a greater sense of what happened post the final page (he said trying to be vague enough to avoid spoilers), and an interesting character who looked set to play a major role is relegated to being a fulcrum for any sequel that might in future be warranted. Cesare also has a writing style that occasionally knocked me out of the narrative – it’s not bad, just different, and very comma-heavy.
These minor quibbles aside, Exponential is an excellent novel, one of the best creature features I’ve read in years, and will very likely appear on my Top 10 Horror Reads of 2014 when that list appears in a little over two month’s time. Do not hesitate to check it out if rampaging-monsters-on-the-loose reads are your type of thing.
4.5 Whip-Lashing Tendrils for Exponential.
The preceding was based on an eARC provided by Samhain Publishing in exchange for an honest review.