Published by Samhain Publishing on Nov 4th 2014
Genres: Bizarro, Horror
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Shane McKenzie is one whacked out author. From murderous luchadores to houses seemingly made of flies, McKenzie’s imagination knows few boundaries – and I’ve generally steered away from some of his more bizarre titles threatening things like Pus Junkies and Toilet Babys. That same rich imagination is again on display in The Bingo Hall, a novella which details what happens when a strange new bingo game opens and Chris finds his mother, like most of the rest of the neighbourhood, becoming oddly addicted to the game. Soon, all bets are off, as the players will resort to any length to win the sizable cash prizes being put up by the mysterious operator, even while the children are off eating food from the Hall that seems to be doing more than just filling their bellies …
McKenzie takes his time setting up his main protagonists. Chris, Oscar and Jay are young teenagers who have no choice but to go along to the weekly game of bingo with their families, not yet being old enough to be tested by themselves. Chris soon suspects there’s something amiss about the new bingo hall and the odd man who runs it, but he’s distracted by his developing feelings for Sasha, another bingo attendee. These four – along with Chris’ parents – form the heart of the story, and you know it’s not going to end prettily for most of them. As serviceable as the character setting-scenes are, it’s when whats happening at the hall is revealed that the novella really shines. McKenzie lays the threat on thick and revels in the carnage that ensues, so fans of gore will get their fill here. Beyond this, I was particularly impressed by the reason behind the bingo hall, and the secondary threat which makes itself known away from the main announcing stage. It’s so off the wall, I doubt many will see where McKenzie is headed in the early going of this one.
It all ends a bit suddenly, and some of the character decision making leaves a lot to be desired, but otherwise The Bingo Hall is an enjoyable, bizarro trip down Horror Lane, that most discerning horror fans will get a kick out of devouring.
3.5 Transparently-Skinned Men for The Bingo Hall.
This review is based on an eARC provided by the good folk at Samhain Publishing.