Review: Sinkhole – A horror story

Review: Sinkhole – A horror story

By April A. Taylor

Genre: Horror

Publisher:  Midnight Grasshopper Books

Pages: 255

Published: October 8, 2019

Thank you to BookSirens for giving me a copy of this book to review! 

“Sinkhole” is a collection of geographically separated vignettes that are linked together because they are Americans attempting to survive simultaneously occurring apocalyptic events. The earth splits open to fiery depths; docile animals have turned vicious and bloodthirsty; and long dormant volcanoes have erupted to life. Strangers must make the choice to rally together or turn against each other to ensure their own survival. Our focus shifts between groups and is told in a third person omnipresent narrative that lets us know just enough about our characters without giving too much away.

We follow four main groups of people throughout the novel.

We first meet Scott, Carol, and their daughter, Allison in Michigan. They are a dysfunctional blue collar lower middle class family. Scott is a self-absorbed alcoholic with anger problems. Carol is controlling and disapproves of her husband’s drinking but can’t get Scott to stop. Their only child, Allison is a fairly normal daddy’s girl that favors trucks to dolls.

One day when Allison is playing in the yard, the earth rips open into a gaping sinkhole beneath her. Carol saves her daughter in the nick of time but why is Allison talking about monsters? 

In the middle of an overgrown field encroached upon by forest in West Virginia, Ivy and Rachel are searching for their family’s ancestral estate. All of their genealogical research leads them to an abandoned plot of land. But as the shape of the house peeks above the foliage something crashes into Rachel and rips at her flesh. A concerned local, Thaddeus sees the attack and rushes to the aid of the women. But why would a deer viciously attack anyone?

In Centralia, Pennsylvania the ornery Don hates everyone. Especially the annoying tourists that have started flocked to the ruined town to gawk at the place that inspired the horror movie “Silent Hill”. His sole purpose in life since his retirement is to take his shotgun and scare the disrespectful tourists away but something goes wrong. He flees the destruction of the highway as hellfire belches forth from fissures in the pavement and breaks his foot. Desperate, he places himself at the mercy of the retired lesbian couple that he loathes, Jill and Doreen. He owns the only functional vehicle in town but he cannot drive a manual transmission with a broken foot. He cannot escape the fires on his own. 

In Oregon, a religious leader, Crandall sees the news that heralds the end times. He and his Devotees prepare to return to God’s loving embrace by digging deep holes.

This was an engaging and fast paced story. Each segment felt as long as it needed to be. As a consequence, you only got the briefest sense of who these characters were before the horrific events they encounter. You have to form your judgements on their actions as their lives spiral out of control.

That being said, I rather disliked Don throughout this book. With a personality so repugnant, it was easy to root against him.

Family drama contrasted the tale of strangers thrown together nicely. You hope that the goodness of humanity will overrule its darkness.

Taylor’s prose reminded me of Daphne de Maurier’s “The Birds” with its oppressive atmosphere and the feeling of dread. You are uncertain of the future. If they survive to tomorrow will they ever trust nature again? Will they ever understand why nature turned hostile? Our dread turns from nature to the people around us and we wonder if they will struggle with us or will they sacrifice us for their own survival. And then it’s a matter of which would be worse, death at the hands of unrelenting nature or betrayal?

I recommend “Sinkhole” for people looking for a fast atmospheric horror story with an apocalypse without zombies or a destined savior of humanity. 

4 of 5