Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review: Sip by Brian Allen Carr

Sip by Brian Allen Carr
Hardcover, 304 pages Published August 29th 2017 by Soho Press

I reviewed Brian Allen Carr's surreal horror novel "The Last horror novel in History of the World" back in 2015. I enjoyed it as a short but totally surreal novella. At the time I said I laughed alot reading this novel which is some kinda of supernatural small town siege tale set against the interesting back drop of a small border town in Texas. Given the title I expected a satire, or a bizarro send up of horror novels but that wasn't the case. This is more like experimental horror that based on the strength of the strong prose is a really cool quick read.

I was excited about this book and wanted to read it after hearing BAC on the JDO (J.David Osbourne) show podcast. Between then and actually getting around to the book I remembered nothing about it. I am glad I went in cold. SIP is a totally weird novel, those worried that BAC would lose his edge getting published by a traditional publisher - don't worry.

Sip is one of the weirdest horror novels I have ever read. The structure of the narrative is a little more straight forward there are no one sentence chapters, but the idea is plenty weird enough. It takes place in a post apaoclyse western setting, the world was not ended by nuclear war or climate change. In this future our world fell apart when junkies developed an addiction for consuming the souls of others through their shadows. Drinking the shadows gives you rest and the dreams of the person or animals you steal from but leaves the creature dry. Dry means you can't sleep or dream.

On a basic level you have great weird elements like shadow drinkers and limb scavengers, you have western elements with the train and the wasteland setting. Those are lots of neat-o elements but at the heart are human characters. At it's core friendship and loyalty plays as important a role as a mainstream YA novel. There is much to relate too at the heart of the story.

One neat aspect is how the concept and setting subverts the nothing setting or the dark or darkness being home to horror. In this world the sunlight and light in general is source of terror. The characters from Bale and Mira break the tension with momments of humor from time to time. The gee-whiz of the concept was enough to get my interest but it is Characters that made this a step-up from the BAC novel I read.

BAC is a talented writer and the very concept is strong argument for the book. At times the prose is poetic, but it is the world building and setting where the beauty lies. That is a neat trick. Overall I would say this is a weird fiction masterpiece if you like bizarro, horror or science fiction there is something here for everyone. If you think that all the ideas have been exhausted before 2017 then you need to read Sip. It is a book like no other and worthy of massive praise.

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