BY CHAD LUTZKE + TIM MEYER
PUBLISHED BY SILVER SHAMROCK PUBLISHING / LIMITED EDITION PUBLISHED BY NIGHTWORMS AND THUNDERSTORM BOOKS
AVAILABLE DECEMBER 2020
When I first caught wind of this collaboration some months back, I found myself jittery with excitement every time this title was mentioned online. You see, I really like both of these authors. I’m still making my way through both of their catalogs, but I’ve read enough from Lutzke and Meyer to know they’re some of my favorite indie writers out there right now. Lutzke knows how to bring real life drama to his horror – something I seek in my fiction – and Meyer knows how to get bizarre and shocking with it. So, to say Wormwood was an anticipated release would be an understatement.
“For some kids, Long Lake, Georgia is home. But for fourteen-year-old Baker Gray, it’s just another stop, another town in another state. Because of his mother’s nomadic lifestyle, he’s never had a best friend, never kissed a girl, and he’s certainly never met anyone like Cassandra Larsson–the enigmatic, older girl whose idea of fun blurs the line between right and wrong. Being hopelessly led by emotions he’s never felt, Baker finds himself plodding along dark paths paved by the girl he thinks he may love–a road to self-destruction, where vigilante justice is encouraged and bloodshed is an art form.”
Of your three lead characters, Baker is the one you are watching over like a guardian angel. You see his mistakes and how dangerous his friends can be. Chances are parts of this story will remind you of personal experiences of your youth, whether it be underage drinking, your first sexual act with someone else, breaking and entering, vandalism … hopefully, not kidnapping and torture, though. But that happens here!
I never really liked Baker’s best guy friend – he always seemed like a pyro in disguise to me – but I surprisingly had a thing with Cass. This is probably because she reminds me of several girlfriends of my past; I’ve always had a thing for bad girls, as you’ll see in my own fiction. For this reason, scenes that focused on Baker and Cass’s building relationship were my favorite. I actually felt a nostalgic excitement in those moments, even the ones that could make you cringe (like when the two of them bleed their palms to make art on the wall).
After that sequence in the woods, this story takes a really dark turn. There are multiple scenes in this book that really took me by surprise, even though I’d read some warnings prior to picking up Wormwood for myself. In other words, I was expecting to be shocked; nevertheless, I was surprised by at least two moments in this story.
I can’t say I really had any complaints with this novel. I just loved Wormwood, and all the grittiness and nostalgia that came with it. I hope like hell these two writers collaborate again in the future. Of all the 150+ books I’ve read in 2020, this is probably in my Top 5, easy.
Highlights: Drama focused, gritty and relatable … fast-paced and exciting … engaging and tense
Shadows: Nothing comes to mind, although it does have some trigger adult content some readers may want to know ahead of time (infidelity, teenage sex and alcohol abuse)
For fans of: Horror that is drama forward … horror with heart … tense and gritty reads … coming of age stories
Takeaway: This novel lived up to my high expectations. Wormwood is a fantastic and sometimes uncomfortable ride through a teenager’s loss of innocence in a big way. I walked away from it howling from how happy I was with my experience.
Would I read these authors again? Yes