Five reasons I loved Alan Ryker's new novella from DarkFuse, The Hoard:
- The story tells of Anna, a compulsive hoarder; in lesser hands such a character would merely be the subject of mistrust but Ryker deals with the theme subtly, showing her actions and their emotional consequences not just on herself but on her family too. The interior of Anna's house, full of junk and grime, is described with clarity and detail, and it is a vivid and original setting for a horror story. Similarly, the wider setting of a Kansas small town is made real to the reader, much like in the author's equally impressive Burden Kansas.
- It's got a pun in the title. The title!
- There's a low key start, where the main focus is on the revelation of Anna's hoarding to her family, but when the horror comes, it really comes. The story ends with a deluge of rain after a summer draught, and the change in the narrative feels much like that: foreshadowed by an increase in pressure, but still shockingly sudden and violent.
- Despite the fact I normally hate any story with a chapter from the point of view of an animal, I didn't hate this one, even though really early on there is a part from the point of view of a rat. *
- Whilst I'm not sure that any monster in horror fiction can be 100% original any more, the one in The Hoard is at least originally unoriginal - The Thing crossed with The Bodysnatchers crossed with the alien possession of The Autopsy (by Michael Shea), perhaps.
So there you have it. You can buy The Hoard in Paperback (UK | US) or Ebook (UK | US).
* I admit this dislike may be slightly irrational. I don't mind books told entirely from the point of view of animals like Watership Down. I just can't stand it when, in the middle of an ordinary narrative, suddenly there's a section where we see events from a Llama's point of view or whatever. Particularly when the animal seems to have human-esque feelings or be 'thinking' in English. **
** I reserve the right to use animal points of view in my future stories should the need arise.