In the Scrape is a 2019-Coming of Age Horror novella co-authored by James Newman and Mark Steensland.
James Newman is one of my faves, so when I was gifted an ARC-copy, I was super stoked. Then like a huge jerk, I never got around to it…
As I was considering what to pick up this past Halloween week, this gorgeous Autumnal cover popped into my mind. Now is the time.
In hindsight, I’m irked I had this 5-star read sitting on my Kindle for years. How did I not pay this story the attention it deserves? Hopefully this review will be an impetus for some of you to pick it up. That would help my guilt.
In this story we follow two young brothers, Jake and Matthew. The boys live with their abusive father and dream of nothing but escape. Their plan is to make their way to California, where they can be reunited with the mother they miss terribly.
We are told the story by Jake, who is 13-years old at the time the events take place. He gives us the details of the family dynamic and takes us through the days leading up to their planned escape.
The boys have been very strategic about it, saving money and waiting until the right time. Even during the worst of the abuse, they stay focused on their plan. They see an upcoming family hunting trip as the perfect opportunity.
Unfortunately, just prior to the trip, Jake has a bloody altercation with his arch-nemesis, which not only puts a damper on the funds he was hoping to save, but also brings local law enforcement sniffing around.
Nevertheless, their Dad is determined to make it out to their cabin for the first day of deer season, so off they go. Little does he know that first night is going to find him tied to a chair as his boys forge their escape.
Dad is a beast though, will the boys be able to subdue him enough to actually get away? What if he catches them? Who will survive the night?
This is such an incredible story. I loved it. I immediately could tell this was a Newman; I adore his writing. I’ve never read from Mark Steensland before, but I trust if Newman is working with him, he’s nothing short of brilliant.
Coming of Age is a subgenre of Horror that I tend to vibe with really well. I know when some people think of Horror books, they think, scary books, things that scare me, and then if they don’t get scared by a book, they say, this isn’t Horror.
For me, Horror is a more nuanced genre than that and thinking only books that literally scare you can be classified as Horror is simplifying the genre unfairly.
I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews, but this story did such a great job of channeling all of the essential vibes of the subgenre, that I felt it was worth repeating here.
This basically transported me into the lives of these two boys while they were living through what could arguably be the most pivotal year of their childhoods.
In addition to the superb writing, it made me feel so much. By the halfway point, I was commenting how it was breaking my heart. I could feel the pain and desperation of these boys.
The brother’s relationship was beautifully done. I could feel the love between them and the push and pull that made that relationship as special as it was. Given their circumstances, it was clear that they were beyond lucky to have one another.
I also loved how the authors continued to build the tension throughout the story as the end approached. They pulled me in, made me 100% committed to the characters and then got my pulse racing with my sights set on the conclusion.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Coming of Age Horror, or to anyone who is looking to try the subgenre for the first time.
I mean, Coming of Age Horror novellas really don’t get much better than this. These authors knocked this out of the park. They made me love Jake and Matthew with my whole heart. In short, this filled my soul.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Silver Shamrock Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review.
My only regret is that it took me so long to get to it.