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I received an eARC copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Content warnings: alcoholism, sexism, gore, violence, loss of a loved one
“OBSIDEO. […] ALWAYS WATCHING”
Friends, this was… a weird book. I finished reading it almost 2 weeks ago and honestly I don’t know if I will ever shake the “WTF did I read?” from my brain. This book definitely delivered on the horror, but it is also a strange read.
WARNING I read a book much like the one you’re holding now. And this is what happened to me. Don’t make the same mistake. Please, put it down. Or better yet, throw it away. This is your last warning. Turn the page, and you’re on your own. Actually, that’s not true. Turn the page and he’ll be there, watching you.
The premise of this story is instantly gripping: a book that somehow puts you on the radar of some evil entity? Yes please. I read
those opening lines the warning as I was curled up in bed, and legit noped out for something a little less creepy for my nighttime reading – which is always a good sign!
The book is told in the point of view of our main character Jesse, whose hindsight and sense of foreboding oozes off of the page. I am a sucker for stories that are kind of told in the past tense, “don’t make the same mistakes as I did” perspective. Jesse and his friends are playing a reunion gig for their band in a bar as the book opens up, the first time in ten years that the band has played. We learn that while Jesse cleaned up his alcoholic rockstar life, his friends Solomon and Caspian are still living it up. The clean, married life he has lived as atonement for a dark secret from the days when he got blackout drunk is in stark contrast to the life of his friends, and a cause of tension between he and Caspian.
The narrative voice quickly descended into a gross, sexist, and misogynistic place. All of the characters are kind of horrible. From “friends” goading a recovering alcoholic into drinking to talking about his friend screwing “anything with a hole” in the parking lot, I quickly found myself wondering if this interesting story would be for me. Because of my disliking essentially everyone, even the narrator, I struggled quite a bit for the first three and a half chapters of the book. But then the horror started, things got spooky… and very weird.
“This is no joke. And you’re the one who made a mistake, not us. You’re the one who asked for this. Now you have it. Now it’s here. The only question is how the story ends for you. Because it’s only just begun.”
There’s no real way to write this review without spoiling the book. Jesse’s secret is the key to the personalized horror that he experiences during the course of this book, and I definitely appreciated the journey and character development that Jesse undergoes through the course of this night, and by the end I was rooting for him.
“Bury who I used to be.”
Unfortunately I found the narrative a bit difficult to follow after the accident (when the spooky stuff starts to happen). I have so many notes on my eARC that are some iteration of “WTF am I reading?!” that looking back now makes me laugh. The story that Kirk has crafted is very complex and it is obvious that he is trying to make a statement about humanity and redemption, but it wasn’t executed very well in my opinion. It’s possible that the book is going through so additional edits before final publication, so perhaps the plotting will be tighter and easier to follow
Overall this was an interesting and eclectic horror read, if not incredibly bizarre. I am actually really interested in the overarching story of OBSIDEO and actually found myself most engaged with that mystery. This is a fast paced and action-packed read that delivers on the horror, but I found it difficult to follow the overall story. While I am still not sure what precisely happened at the end of the book, I really liked the redemption of the unlikable (to me) main character and the underlying conversations on the philosophy of being. I just wish I had a sense of understanding when I read the final pages.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC via NetGalley for review. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon publication.