[REVIEW] The Gulp – by Alan Baxter

THE GULP 
(TALES FROM THE GULP, BOOK #1)
  • By Alan Baxter
  • Published by 13th Dragon Books
  • Available January 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m not all that familiar with the mosaic novel format, although I have attempted it myself in the past. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve read one … 

That being said, I love the way it works. The Gulp is split into five novellas, all of which share a common setting (the town of Gulpepper) and characters passing in and out of the stories (often in the background of the entries they aren’t fronting). Ultimately, there is a bigger picture at play that also connects the novellas together, but it’s vague and mysterious, even in the end. Clearly, Baxter has plans to continue this series (if the listing of Tales from the Gulp #1 didn’t tip you off). 

Though I have read a couple things by Baxter, it’s really nothing in comparison to his large catalogue of releases. Prior to this, I’d experienced the supernatural crime fiction of Devouring Dark and the creature feature fun of The Roo. The Gulp is my first taste of his brand of horror, which is dipped in wonderful weirdness and rich description. This is definitely my favorite work of his so far!

“Out on a Rim” introduced me to the atmosphere and oddness that is the Gulp. “Mother in Bloom” brought to mind The Last of Us – though, to be fair, I am in the middle of game two in that series –  which was sick and strange and beautifully engrossing. “The Band Plays On” slowed things down a bit, but kept my attention with its intriguing characters and their abilities. “48 to Go” was my favorite entry, as it mostly focused on a home burglary gone very wrong. Not only did it get quite intense and surprising at times, it brought to light some sort of occult-related trade taking place in the shadows of the Gulp. I definitely want to know more about that! And, lastly, there was “Rock Fisher,” which did a great job in painting the way a person is changed when someone (or something) needs them to survive. It also ends in such a way that you’re left with a slew of new questions about what the hell is going on in this strange coastal town.

The Gulp is obviously the start of something glorious!

***

Highlights: Great structure … recurring characters and locations … a bigger picture that is as mesmerizing as it is confusing … wonderfully weird and dangerous

Shadows: “The Band Plays On” is a tad slow, but not enough to remove me from the experience

FFO: Weird and speculative horror fiction … mosaic formats … supernatural crime

Takeaway: Let’s just say I’m ready for the sequel, Alan.

Would I read this author again? Yes

***

  • REVIEW BY AIDEN MERCHANT
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