First published back in October of 2015, co-written by British author Wayne Simmons and US author Andre Duza ‘Voodoo Child’ is a pulp horror novel written in the style of an eighties slasher flick.

DLS Synopsis:
It’s 1985 and Lori Sawyer has brought her friends Abby and Roxy Blue to the isolated backwoods of Black Water, Louisiana for a weekend getaway.  The plan was for the three of them to stay in Lori’s grandparents’ old shack whilst they were away.

Lori had been brought up in the outback of Black Water, and still held the cultures and beliefs from the area.  Her grandmother was a self-confessed Voodoo Priestess.  Lori herself claimed to be a witch.

The three girls had come away to help Abby clear her head.  It was exactly a year ago that her ex-boyfriend, Danny, attacked her in their apartment.  A dangerous mix of alcohol and jealousy had resulted in Abby fighting back and finally stabbing Danny.  She knew that if she hadn’t killed him, she’d be the one that would be dead now.  It had simply been an act of self-defence.  But even though Danny had been dead for a whole year now, having his death on her hands still haunted her.

However, when they arrive they find that Lori’s blind grandfather had come down with a mild illness which meant the girls were forced to camp out in the woods instead.  A turn in events that Roxy Blue wasn’t entirely happy with.  But they were there to enjoy themselves and Lori wasn’t going to let the slight change in plans ruin their time in Black Water.

However, the legend of Christie Keller that surrounded the nearby lake worried Lori’s Gramps.  The girls were camped out right by the lakeside, where Christie Keller had supposedly been tried as a witch and subsequently drowned. The legend went that every once in a while the moon would turn blood red and Christie Keller would come out from the lake and possess folk.

But the girls weren’t the only ones camping out by the lakeside.  John C. Lane and his pals Jake and Charlie Seymour were spending a few days in the area on a hunting trip.  Finding out that a group of attractive young girls were also camping out in the area was a definite bonus for them.

But when the girls’ car is found trashed, the accusatory finger is quickly pointed in the direction of the three young lads.  Roxy is convinced that they’re responsible for the damage, and no amount of blaming the local legend will dissuade her from her opinion.  But there’s something far worse in those isolated Louisiana woods than a bunch of obnoxious rednecks.  Something that’s beyond the natural world.  Something that’s restless.  Something that wants revenge…


DLS Review:
Penned as an unashamed homage to those glorious slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s, Andre Duza and Wayne Simmons’ novel ‘Voodoo Child’ is one of those offerings that was clearly written by horror fans, for fans of the genre.  Indeed, everything about the publication screams of a proper over-the-top slasher horror. The cover artwork by Alex McVey is quite frankly superb and sets the tone perfectly.  Even down to the obligatory “based on a true story” claim on the front cover (how truthful this is I have no idea), the purposefully pulp-sized paperback simply looks every bit the part that the authors obviously wanted it to.

But enough on the look of the thing, how about the blood-spilling, gut-wrenching, bone-splitting gory delights inside?  Well, I guess the first thing that needs to be pointed out is this isn’t splatterpunk.  Indeed, that’s not at all what the authors were going for here.  What we have instead is an 80’s style slasher novel akin to the likes of the ‘The Burning’ (1981), ‘Eaten Alive’ (1977), ‘Sleepaway Camp’ (1983) or indeed the cult classic ‘Friday the 13th’ films (1980 – 1993).

And sure enough, the tale sets out just as you’d expect – with an adrenaline-pumping slasher-frenzy of an opening scene that gets the horror juices flowing from the outset.  However, once the opening sequence has set the tone for the tale, the pacing slows down somewhat, as the authors start laying down the building blocks for their voodoo-heavy Deep South slasher-fest.  Pacing veers towards sluggish for the first handful of chapters – with the characters being carefully fleshed-out and the setting only very gradually established.  That’s not to say there’s not enough going on over these early chapter – but it has to be said that things do take a little while to get in motion.

Duza and Simmons put a great deal of emphasis on the backstories of their few characters – glancing back a few years where necessary and interweaving the characters’ histories in with the slowly evolving storyline.  And of course, there’s that all-important ‘voodoo’ vibe going on.  Interestingly the whole voodoo thing only really starts to materialise in the latter half of the book.  Again, this is undoubtedly down to that gradual 80’s slasher-style build-up that the authors are aiming to deliver in their pulpy paperback offering.

One particularly noticeable aspect with the novel is the amount of different elements the authors bring into the whole equation.  The imaginatively erratic storyline seems to weave this way and that; juggling a number of different storyline threads that never really converge all that well.  That’s not to say it doesn’t work as a whole.  But the reader can’t help but feel that some of the parts come across as a tad disjointed and oddly random in places.  However, although edging towards the ever-so-slightly off- the-wall at times, it doesn’t half help keep the reader guessing.  And that’s certainly no bad thing!

However one thing’s for sure with ‘Voodoo Child’ – it’s 100% horror-fuelled lowbrow entertainment from start to finish.  If your horror education began with renting out 70s and 80s slasher flicks on VHS, then this will be a much-loved reminder of those glorious gory days from the past.  It’s over-the-top, it’s bloody and brutal, and the pacing is all over the frigging place.  There’s also a weird Deep South wackiness behind it all that (purposeful-or-not), does the novel a whole heap of favours.

If Rob Zombie stuck a burlap sack over the egg-shaped head of oddball-looking actor Michael Berryman, flung him into the deep dark woods of the Louisiana with a cane knife in hand, and told him to go on a murderous rampage whilst he filmed the resulting slasher shenanigans – then this would probably be quite close to the end result.

This one really is for all the 70s and 80s horror fans out there.

The novel runs for a total of 253 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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