Set in the 1990s, a group of teenagers head to a cabin the woods with the help of two unpopular girls in order to summon an ancient demon buried beneath the structure and give it a human vessel. After a slight mishap, the teens have to survive each other and the blood-spilling, goo-shooting demon that’s possessing them.
This story is a near copy of the 1981 horror film THE EVIL DEAD, with teenagers going to a secluded cabin, awakening a demon, and experiencing supernatural terror via nature and possessed friends. The author’s homage even included direct quotes from the film franchise’s pivotal character, Ash. With it being a possession story, there’s also a few nods to THE EXORCIST (the cover art, especially). If you’re a fan of those movies and the stark similarities don’t bother you on a creative level, you’re going to speed right through this novella.
Smith’s use of nature is imaginative and disgusting at every turn. His descriptions of colors and textures are unrelenting. The teen characters aren’t quite as nasty as the demon but they give it a run for its money with their foul language and “dirty” secrets. Seriously, I’m glad I wasn’t a high schooler in the 90s. Speaking of the 90s, the author pins songs in the story to make it an auditory experience, as well. You’ll recognize the book’s namesake as Jewel’s career-launching tune. The story doesn’t take its self too serious. There’s some corny puns, icky high school drama, and some hard “what the fuck” moments that nudges the books genre placement from horror to extreme/bizarro horror.
The pacing was really well done, especially with the repeated dialogue to establish a different character’s POV and their placement during the action. I had issues with the conclusion, however. I enjoyed the fact that it was fun and a “true” horror ending but it left a lot of questions. There wasn’t any wrap up on the insane events that just went down. A 2-3 sentence paragraph could have summed up things sufficiently and cleared any lingering confusion.
If you’re a reader looking for a raunchier, grosser side of horror without having to sacrifice a goodnight’s rest, Who Will Save Your Soul? is the one for you. It’s not too heavy on the seriousness but it’s absolutely sopping wet with blood, puss, and other bodily fluids that’ll make you gag.
Who Will Save Your Soul? is an another addition to Unnerving Magazine’s REWIND OR DIE novella series. You can preorder this novella by clicking HERE. Its release date is January 28th, 2021.
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