Last weekend I had the awesome opportunity to meet horror author extraordinaire Brian Keene and award winning director Mike Lombardo. While this was our first face to face meeting, Mike and I both being apart of the Horror Syndicate family were familiar with each other. It was a blast. It was also the first time I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Keene. I had been familiar with Keene through his podcast, although I admittedly wasn’t a consistent listener and hadn’t read any of his novels. I’m an avid reader (typically if I’m not at work I can be found with a book in my hand), but it’s mostly history, theology, and economics because I’m a bit of a nerd. As much as I love horror movies, I hadn’t taken too many trips into the world of horror fiction literature. That day I bought my first Keene novel, The Complex.
The Complex follows a group of tenants of the Pine Valley Apartment Complex as they deal with an unspeakable horror. The cast of characters is highly eclectic, with a suicidal author, Vietnam veteran, a trans woman, a newlywed couple, an elderly widow, a mother and young son, two street criminals, and a mysterious serial killer. For reasons unknown, the complex has been overrun with bloodthirsty naked people who are savagely murdering anyone they can get their hands on. The crew must figure out a way to escape the massacre or be counted among the slaughtered. These “crazies,” as they’re called, carry various implements of destruction with which they murdered the others in a variety of ways.
It took me all but a day and a half to finish this book. The novel is pretty fast paced, making it more difficult to put down because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the action. Keene does an excellent job of developing the characters despite the fact that there are so many, and that the book isn’t incredibly long. As previously mentioned, the action is incredibly fast paced. These “crazies” are not slow and sluggish, so the reactions of the main characters can’t be either. The violence in the novel is unrelenting and gratuitous. Gorehounds will be particularly excited about the amount of carnage splattered throughout the pages. I won’t spoil the ending, but evidently it has been rather controversial among the fans. I enjoyed it.
My first foray into contemporary horror fiction was a good one. I cannot believe it took me this long to really get into it, but I have a feeling I’m here to stay. I have already purchased my second Brian Keene book Dark Hollow, and have added a plethora more to my Amazon wish list. Although I never doubted it, The Complex really showed what a talented writer he is. The narrative really kept me on the edge of my seat and the gore was overwhelmingly satisfying. The quality of the writing is superseded only by the man himself, as meeting Brian was an absolute blast. I am more than happy to support his art, and will definitely be reviewing some more of his books for The Horror Syndicate.