“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Blister by Jeff Strand, 274 pages (print, 215 pages eBook) published by Sinister Grin Press (July 13, 2016).
They call her Blister. She’s a hideously disfigured twenty-three year old woman, living in a shed next to her father’s house, hidden away from the world.
Jason Tray is a successful cartoonist, banished to his agent’s lakeside cabin for a few days of mandatory rest and relaxation. One night, while hanging out with a couple of the locals at a dive bar, he takes them up on their offer to go “see Blister,” having no idea what they’re talking about.
He peeks through the window at the most nightmarish thing he’s ever seen.
In the morning, he wakes up, hung over and regretful. He’s better than this. He needs to…apologize?
From the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Pressure and Dweller comes a tale of fiendish secrets, ghastly crimes, and human monsters.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting between the covers of Blister, the most recent (and my first) Jeff Strand joint, given that I didn’t read the synopsis before plunging in. I’m kind of ashamed to say that this was my baptism in the fiction world of Mr. Strand, an author with a plethora of compelling titles in any given bookstore. Although I was familiar with his reputation, that being of a certain comedic flair threading his horror, which isn’t normally a selling point that I seek out. I’ll I knew about Blister was the cover, a gnarly and thought provoking cover, and of all the things the cover could possibly hint at the one narrative I wasn’t expecting was a charming, heartfelt love story.
Blister is a pretty great read. Yes it has a hearty edge of humor to it, but it is more of a vein supplying life, breath to the pages. Our main character, Jason Tray, is a snarky cartoonist, and the humor of the book lives and dies on his shoulders, and it really fits this character well. I love how he handles himself, especially when he’s making amends. Everyone else you encounter is pretty no-nonsense. No smiles, no handshakes, just glares and snide comments. It’s a nice contrast. And when it’s time for the narrative to get down to business, the humor trails off and it gets down to business.
Rachel, aka Blister is another great heartbeat inhabiting this read. She’s a perfect yang to Jason’s yin. Her story is brutal, moving, and the personality sprouting from her tribulations was pleasantly unexpected. I found myself rooting for these two to fall into each other, and that is nothing like me. I’m usually the one rooting for (in this case) the messy mystery surrounding Rachel’s disfigurement to constrict and suffocate before an explosion of mayhem. So when that element actually sneaks in, it kind of blindsides you. It got me anyway.
This aspects of the book that I didn’t expect won me over and the aspects I thought I had figured out proved that I wasn’t as adapt as I thought I was.
A chuckle when you need one, a mess when you want one. Blister hits well on all point of a solid Horror yarn. Thanks for the opportunity to visit your unique world of horror, Jeff. I’ll be sure to make a return appearance soon.
Overall score: 4.5/5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and/ or publisher and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
Jeff Strand was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but moved to Fairbanks, Alaska when he was six months old, so his memories of Baltimore are hazy. He grew up in the cold, where he desperately wanted to be a cartoonist. Then he wanted to make video games. Then he wanted to write movies. Actually, he still wants to do all of those things, but for now he’s quite happy writing lots of demented novels
He was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. His novel Pressure has been optioned for film; he’s hoping the movie will be made soon so he can scream “My baby! What have you done to my precious baby?!?”
His novels are usually classified as horror, but they’re really all over the place, from comedies to thrillers to drama to, yes, even a fairy tale
Because he doesn’t do cold weather anymore, he lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and a deaf cat.
Praise for Jeff Strand
“Pressure is the closest I’ve come to having a nightmare with my eyes still open.” —Jay Bonansinga, bestselling author of Twisted, Frozen, and The Sinking of the Eastland
“This dark and mesmerizing novel left me shaking.” —Gary A. Braunbeck, Stoker Award-winning author of Prodigal Blues
“Jeff Strand is a funny, deeply disturbed individual.” —Jack Ketchum, author of Off Season and The Girl Next Door
“With Blister, Jeff Strand balances horror with beauty and finds that most rarest thing of all: love. Impossible to put down, rich with character and humor, Blister explodes off the page. Quite simply: it rocks.” — Peter Adam Salomon, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of All Those Broken Angels
Also, check out Sinister Grin Press Website
If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Jeff Strand, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Marketing and Publicity at Sinister Grin Press and Hook of a Book Media: firstname.lastname@example.org.