Little Heaven by Nick Cutter is what a horror novel once was and should always be. It is what was written before the teenage romance readers and writers got a hold of the genre and weakened it. There is darkness, there is horror and there is a hopelessness that infects all the characters. They are damned and redeemed and in their redemption must pay the price for their sins.. There are no heroes here. There are only cast of characters whose sins are faced off against a greater evil. An evil they could not have every been prepared for. This has been called old school horror but that is wrong, unless it can be considered old school just because there is no safe place to shield you in this book.
“…You really think we’ll have to blast our way out of here?’ said Ellen. ‘Have things gotten that nuts?’
Things can get nuts pretty fast, Micah thought. He knew it. He’d seen it.
Minerva said, ‘There’s something else in these woods.’
Everyone looked at her. A flush crept up her throat.
‘Just something hostile,’ she went on, undeterred. ‘I felt it the other night, searching for the boy. A million eyes scuttling over my skin. I don’t care if that sounds stupid. Maybe I’m going a little nuts myself.’ She stared at them, her jaw fixed tight. ‘This fucking place.’
Nobody disputed her sense of things…”
Three mercenaries, one time enemies, but now working together take a simple job. Go with a woman to check on her nephew, who was taken by his father to a remote, religious settlement in New Mexico known as Little Heaven. Micah Shughrue, Minerva Atwater, and Ebenezer Elkins escort Ellen Bellhaven into New Mexico to see how her nephew is doing. But soon after they arrive they begin to realize that nothing is what it seems in this secluded community. The settlers are paranoid of outsiders and worse, their children are beginning to go missing. The people of Little Heaven know that there is something old and dark in the woods surrounding their settlement. There is something that is beginning to call out to them from the woods, something that is encroaching on their world.
“…The thing was more interested in Otis. He’d stopped screaming, now face to face with it. Otis’ lips trembled as he called out, oh so weakly, for his God.
The the thing attacked. Otis might as well have walked into a garbage disposal. His face was shredded, legs jittering crazily as he was torn to bits. Blood burst forth and sheeted down, a veritable waterfall of the red stuff splattering Micah’s face…”
I have read Nick Cutter before. I was not overly impressed as the rest of the world seemed to be with The Troop but I absolutely loved The Deep. Yes there were a thousand things wrong with it but the tense atmosphere of the novel was the true promise of what was to come.
In Little Heaven, Cutter’s scope and storytelling take major leaps forward. This is epic horror on the scale of some of King’s best tales. As good as them, probably not but very much as ambitious. Little Heaven is a novel of evil on the human scale and then evil on a scale that goes beyond the reality of our world.
Cutter’s ambition and reach would scare some young writers but in Little Heaven he delivers the goods.
This is horror. This is dark. This is redemption. This is hope.
This is on par with Joe Hill.
This is just that damn good.