[Review] This Creature Casts No Shadow: The Kill

Publisher: Tor Books | Published: January 28, 1988 | Pages: 320

I’ve been wanting to read The Kill for the longest time. It’s been sitting on my TBR cart for a while. Luckily for me, I had some time on my hands. I finally got around to it earlier this week. It’s a relatively quick read, and being his first horror novel, there are no hiccups in the plot. The Kill is well-written, but you can tell it was Alan Ryan’s inaugural effort with the horror genre.

The cover artist did a great job capturing the atmosphere of the story. It sets the scene in Deacons Kill located in the Catskills. The premise lured me in, but it was the antagonist that kept me intrigued. I wanted to know what was killing all those people. The other characters had enough depth to keep me interested. You could tell Alan Ryan was a fan of horror long before he wrote The Kill.

Alan Ryan kicks things off with the death of a little girl who had gone missing in the woods. Soon after, a lady is killed while wandering off from a party. Luckily for us and the characters in the book, her death was caught on tape. Leaving their busy life behind in New York City, Megan and Jack moved to Deacons Kill. Things started looking up for the couple, but for them, the quiet life was ephemeral. The killer was hungry and ready to test the boundaries of the forest.

I had a few issues with the book. I can’t tell you how many times a tree branch slapped someone in the face. And this one character made me mad. I think that his sole purpose was to piss off the reader. I really wanted to tell him to cunt off. By the time you get to the final third of the book, The Kill accelerates at a very brisk pace. The ending takes about four to six pages. It was rushed and convenient. I felt short-changed because there wasn’t a real payoff.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Kill is Alan Peter Ryan’s second novel and first horror novel, published in 1982. It is the story of Megan Todd and Jack Casey, a young couple who flee the pressures of the city to rural Deacons Kill in the Catskills. Their home becomes the target of an ancient and invisible evil that hides in the nearby deep wood. They must join with their new friends and neighbors to find and confront the monster. This is a fine example by a World Fantasy Award-winning author of a theme explored extensively by Golden Age (70s & 80s) horror writers.

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