I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by Aaron T. Milstead
Published by Blood Bound Books on September 26, 2015
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Supernatural
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SOME SPECIES OF cockroaches eat human eyelashes. In particular, they prefer to target babies, because their eyelashes contain important minerals and their tear ducts provide an ample supply of moisture. As a professional pest exterminator, Clint Stern knows this and a million other facts about the insect world. After taking a job in a rundown apartment building, Clint encounters tenants more depraved and destructive than the pests he’s been hired to eliminate. He and the tenement share a forgotten past, and he realizes there is a darker reason he’s been called to this place. If, Clint can’t decipher the reason he’s been lured here, chances are he’ll never check out.
THEY DON’T CHECK OUT is the first book I have read by author Aaron T. Milstead, and I was very impressed by how well the atmospheric tension was kept up throughout the entire tale. It begs the question, if one can change their fate, or if “A man is nothing more than what’s been done to him and what he’s done.”
Clint Stern, otherwise known as “Bug Man”, is a pest exterminator for a corporate company with “questionable” methods of getting as much money as possible out of their clientele. When a fellow employee asks Clint to take one of his jobs–a former asylum being converted into low-income housing–Clint hesitantly agrees.
Once the HUD tenement comes into sight, the oppression and apprehension hit the reader head on with full force.
On the main floor of the previous mental institution, we are acquainted with the Apartment Manager, Earl Guin–a hideously malformed man–who gives Clint the background of the building’s past incarnations. As Clint progresses through the individual apartments, he is met by quite the assortment of tenants. At one point, he pauses to ask someone how they are. The one word answer weighs heavily in our minds, and sets the stage for the rest of the horrifying adventure: “Okay. . . . Had the word ever been genuine or was it always the verbal equivalent of a cyanide pill waiting to be bitten down upon when all other had been exhausted?”
The characters become worse and more troubling as the tale goes on, the deep-rooted depression that had undoubtedly always been a part of the physical structure, seeping into the consciousness of all present. I felt that one quote, in particular, summed this up quite well: “Life isn’t about learning or doing good. It’s just a steady decaying of everything in you that’s worthwhile until the only thing left is . . . suffering.”
Aside from a few editorial errors and some scene changes that felt a little too abrupt, I was very impressed with this story. Each new revelation and interaction led perfectly to further the plot along, and the air of sorrow, madness, and depression retained its potency until the very end–which held a very impressive twist, as opposed to what I had been expecting.