First published back in December of 2014, ‘Control’ formed the debut novel by British author Kyle Turton.

DLS Synopsis:
Over the years Bill Foley had become a fan of his own handiwork.  He was quite smug about it.  And as he glanced over at the Middleton family, he knew that this next project would be no exception.  As always, he’d plan and wait as long as he needed to in order to ensure everything was perfect.  To make it memorable, just like all the rest had been.

The Middleton’s were your typical American family.  Robert Middleton and his wife, Audrey, lived in a pleasant suburban house, going about their normal everyday lives without a thought for who might be watching them.  But it was their young son, Joseph, that Bill had his eye on the most.  He knew how simple it was to win over a young boy.  A shiny red toy car would do the trick.  And with making Joseph promise not to tell his parents, Bill had instantly won over the boy, and now the real fun could begin.

But, as was so often the way, Bill could feel that other drive urging him towards Joseph’s mother.  He could never resist it.  However his attentions hadn’t gone unnoticed.  Audrey had seen him staring.  She’d caught those piercing yellow eyes watching her.  Felt his presence in their home.  And it unnerved her.

Like so many of them, the Middleton’s next move would ultimately play right into Bill’s hands.  They decided to take a few days holiday to get away from it all.  Spend some quality time together in their cabin, out in the beautiful American wilderness.  There Robert hoped Audrey would begin to feel a bit better.  More secure.

However, out in the woods and miles away from anyone else was exactly where Bill wanted them.  The Green family had recently met with Bill in similar surroundings and the slaughter that followed had left its dark mark on the local community.  There were just two survivors that night – the Greens’ two children James and Emma.  In one brutal night of bloodshed they’re lives had been changed forever.

And that’s exactly what Bill planned for the Middleton’s.  Robert and Audrey would face the beast that was hidden within William Foley.  Away from any chance of help or rescue, they would come face to face with the savage beast that took over Bill’s body. He had a monster buried deep within him.  And when the time was right, he let it burst out.  And then with his claws and razor-sharp teeth, the beast would kill.  And in doing so, the children would be set free.  Or so the monster in Bill believed…

DLS Review:
I have to admit Kyle Turton’s debut is somewhat of a mixed bag.  The book’s cover lets you know what’s likely to be in store for you.  Bold, brash and utilising that wonderfully ‘classic’ werewolf premise – only with a slight hint of a campish tongue-in-cheek edge to it.  And to be fair, Turton does achieve this.

Behind the pretty much cheesy-as-they-come werewolf aspect lies a reasonably interesting (and really quite original) idea.  Put the werewolf tomfoolery to one side for a minute, and underneath this you have a strong ‘serial killer thriller’ backbone to it all, whereby our antagonist is killing parents in order to supposedly set the kids free.  Of course it all stems from his own bitter childhood.  Nevertheless it makes for an interesting angle for justifying the (utterly deluded) killer’s personal motivation.

One of the strongest aspects to the story is undoubtedly with the characterisation.  When he puts his mind to it Turton can certainly create some believable and nicely fleshed-out characters.  And there’s a fair few examples of this in ‘Control’.  However, not all of the principal characters in the tale are given such loving attention.  In particular, those leading the investigations into the deaths are very strangely left somewhat without faces or distinctive voices.  Furthermore, not enough is made of Sheriff Martin Davidson’s investigation and overall involvement in the plot – which is a major oversight considering that Davidson is perhaps the novel’s principal protagonist (I say ‘perhaps’ because this really is quite ambiguous).  It’s with the victims where the real characterisation comes into play.  Like with a typical Guy N Smith pulpish tale, the victims are each brought to life and carefully fleshed-out, purely so that their slaughter has the impact it so rightly requires.

However, a scattering of ferocious kills and creepy stalking antics doesn’t hide a number of issues with the novel as a whole (all of which are admittedly very common in debuts).  The most glaring of these would be with the tale’s disjointed construction.  Throughout its length the tale feels like it’s lacking in enough direction - even with it utilising such a singular storyline.  The novel’s literally crying out for some substories to be interwoven into it.  This would really thicken out the story whilst maintaining the reader’s interest with the collective events that would be taking place (rather than following just one solitary thread).

Similarly, the individual chapters (and subsections in each chapter) often feel too clunky and piecemeal.  Some fine tuning of how the chapters slot together to form a greater picture would keep the reader wanting to press on with the tale a hell of a lot more.  In fact, some serious tightening up of the whole tale would improve the novel tenfold.  Furthermore, the novel would benefit from some serious proofreading/editing – currently suffering from numerous typos throughout the length of the novel, all of which result in derailing the reader (the latter half of the tale seems to have about one typo per page).

That said, when the pulp-ish lycanthropic violence kicks in is when Turton quite clearly feels most at home.  The savage acts of tooth-and-claw ripping violence burst out from the novel, mauling the reader as the brutality of the werewolf attacks leave their bloodcurdling stamp on the tale.  Sadly, such scenes are few and far between.  

Even with its flaws and desperate need for further editing, the tale still keeps its audience wanting to see the horror through to the bitter end.  And it’s here that we are delivered an oddly condensed and abrupt final collection of pages – with the epilogue offering up a very last minute reprise from what would have otherwise have been an ending devoid of any feeling of much needed closure.

Ultimately it’s a novel for readers who enjoy taking their staple horror diet with an accompanying stalker-cum-serial killer side dish to their blood drenched feast.  There’s a lot of gruesome fun to be had in ‘Control’, but (quite regrettably) you can’t help but feel that it still needs some serious reworking  before the tale will be able to get its claws into you.

The novel runs for a total of 284 pages.

 © DLS Reviews


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