Book Review – Becoming by Glenn Rolfe

becoming

When I hear of a story involving The Lady in the Lake, my thoughts race to an enchanted maiden rising from the still waters with beautiful long hair and wonderful magic bringing joy to many. Well, in this horror novel by Glenn Rolfe, there’s a lake, there’s a lady in there, but there’s no wondrous and beautiful magic on show. No, the lady in this lake is an evil, tentacled bitch-monster.

Quiet towns where everyone knows everyone else, are always great settings for creepy stories. And quiet towns in Maine? Well, they’re the best you can get.

When Greg, a boy playing around the lake, gets some strange green slime on his hands, his best friend, Michele knows there’s something very wrong. And when Greg is pulled into the water by some monstrous energy from within, she definitely knows things ain’t right.

But Michele’s account of what happened is just so bizarre, how is anyone going to believe her? Well, they don’t. Not at first anyway.

The lady in the lake, more like the witch in the water, has a plan for the residents of this small town. Before long, Greg returns but he is changed. Now able to transform his arms into tentacles, these vicious appendages are able to ‘infect’ others by oral invasion. It’s not a particularly nice way to go, I’d imagine, and the images conjured are enough to make you gag a little as you read.

Those who become ‘changed’ still look like they used to, but there’s just something a bit ‘off’ about them, emotionless if you will.

I was reminded of the excellent novel, The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, and in fact this is also mentioned in the book (but I thought of it first, so I was cleverer than the characters, or something). There’s also a unsettling Lovecraftian vibe through the whole thing.

Friends and family members are taken and before long the whole of the town, save the heroes of the hour, are prepped and ready for their ultimate sacrifice to the Lady of Leviathan.

What was great about this book was the pacing. Straight away, from pretty much the first page, you’re thrust (or dunked) into the horrors occurring in the seemingly-peaceful lake and surrounding community. There was no time for character backstories, apart from the odd paragraph here and there. OK, you could argue the characters weren’t as developed as they could have been, but in a short, sharp novel such as this, it would slow everything down and have you screaming for the action and gore to return.

There’s nothing revolutionary going on, but who cares? As the novel progressed it became difficult to predict who would be safe from the horror of the lake, if anyone would. Great stuff.

The ending, when the whole reason for this monster water-whore becomes apparent, is fully justified and satisfying. There’s no real closure, the story is action/gore/action up until the very final moments. There’s no wrapping up and explaining everything away going on, which is a good thing. I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters that survived, but the fact that I felt this way speaks volumes for the writing.

I think the best thing I got out of this was finding out there’s another book coming out later this year which will continue the story. I can’t wait for that.

A fun little horror novel with enough scares and action scenes to keep every horror lover happy. Highly recommended.

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