Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: FEAST by R. Scott McCoy

If the contents of my last article weren’t enough to tell you, let me speak plainly that I am an individual who is constantly looking to expand my horizons when it comes to the materials I read. There are times that I tire of reading the same “Big Four” of the horror industry, though this is not to say that I bore of their work. Quite the contrary, actually; what I really desire is to find different points of view, to explore differing ways of building plot and character. As I’ve said many times before, this is how we grow as writers; without a diversity of the ideas we intake, creativity and innovation suffer. If you want a perfect example of this, just take a quick peek at our nation’s capital.

Needless to say, I was quite excited when FEAST, a slim little slice of morbidity from R. Scott McCoy, arrived at my doorstep. Mr. McCoy is, along with his career as a writer, the publisher and editor of NECROTIC TISSUE MAGAZINE, a former e-zine which will soon be publishing its first print issue. This is a man who sees literally thousands of manuscripts come across his desk monthly. One would think he possesses a pretty decent grasp of what people in general like to read.

With Feast, Mr. McCoy proves the truth in this assumption.

Feast is the story of Nick Ambrose, deputy sheriff of Santa Cruz, California. He is a man of duty and honor, who also has the innate ability to read a person’s guilt. His brother, Pete, is also a police officer, and at the beginning of the story we find the two of them together, driving through rural California to investigate the dwelling of a man named Donald P. Reid, who is suspect of being involved in a series of kidnappings.

This is the start of the tale, and it takes no time at all before the action starts. Events turn interesting very quickly. By the time the third chapter rolls around, Nick is left to deal with newfound abilities (and their consequences) that he would have never imagined, even in his wildest dreams. He proceeds to stumble into San Francisco, presumed dead by his peers, armed with power he doesn’t understand and a head that now has not one resident but three, in search of a childhood friend, who to him is the only one who can help him.

I will not go into detail about the rest of the book, because that will only lessen your enjoyment of the read. There are twists and turns and conflict with the purest of evils, which is man’s inherent greed. Nick of course triumphs, but there is no doubt that, by the time the end of the book rolls around, that he will face obstacles on his road ahead, and most of them will prove to be horrible, indeed.

Feast incorporates themes and contrivances that are common in both horror and fantasy, such as the swallowing of souls and the ability to read the auras of individuals as if were were visible lifelines. Though the tools are common, I found the execution to be original and inspiring. Instead of the plot driving the characters, in this tale we have Nick, the protagonist, moving the story along. He acts with confidence (even through his inner uncertainty) and uses his own personal torment to come to grips with the way his situation, and his future, have changed. This is a nice change of pace from the usual, where the outside elements – the ghosts and ghouls who populate the story – dictate where the path leads.

This is not a deep book; the characters, while flawed, are inherently simple. There is nary a philosophical waxing to be seen. And this is not an insult. The book is what it is; a story of character development and action, where each page brings a new trial and a new set of obstacles to overcome. This makes the story read quite quickly, and there is a lot of charm in its straightforwardness. Can you tell I enjoyed it?The only complaint that I have about FEAST is its length. At 155 pages, it reads as the first few chapters of a much larger work. The end leaves you thirsting for more, bad pun intended. I wished there were more story there, as by the time I finished I felt the story had really picked up steam and then left me hanging. I realize that this is a function of small press, where the shorter (and cheaper to produce) is the better, but it still was a bit frustrating. Here’s hoping, from this reader’s perspective, that there are more tales of Nick Ambrose on the way.

To purchase your own copy of Feast, please visit

Thank you once again for your time. This little book is a gem. You will not be disappointed.