Written by: William Massa
As some may recall from my Top 10 list a while back, I’m a sucker for the occult detective subgenre of horror. Combing the classic appeal of crime fiction with the subversive power of horror and crackling with the energy of the pulps, occult detective stories give us classic heroes that can hold their own against the forces of darkness. Instead of focusing solely on regular people tormented by powers beyond their comprehension, the protagonists of these tales come equipped with special talents or knowledge and are willing to take the fight to the other side. Enter FBI Special Rosa Thorn, the latest occult sleuth to arrive on the scene.
Scaremonger is built around a killer high-concept: the psychic members of a spiritualist community are being picked off one by one, and it’s up to Rosa Thorn aka Lily Dale to crack the case and confront the supernatural evil terrorizing the town. The story was originally based on a screenplay and the 24,000-word novella unfolds at a feverish, cinematic pace. I loved the pulp energy of the piece; there are a lot of short scenes and a ton of cross-cutting, and the dynamic style is perfectly suited for this particular genre effort. More than just a spooky yarn, the tale serves as an origin story of sorts for the titular character who starts out as Rosa Thorn but ultimately adopts the name of the spiritualist town and becomes Lily Dale (great name by the way for a series character).
My one, initial reservation was that Lily Dale was a fun, badass character, but I couldn’t quite tell what made her unique and different from other FBI agents we’ve met before. I shouldn’t have feared as Mr. Lamberson has a killer twist in store that propels the character to a whole other level and raises expectations for upcoming adventures.
Gregory Lamberson is a three-time Bram Stoker finalist, a cult filmmaker (Slime City) and published novelist and this isn’t his first foray into the occult detective genre. He is the writer of the excellent Jake Helman Files but as that series is drawing to a close, Lily Taylor appears to be a worthy successor. Scaremonger is his first attempt at self-publishing and hopefully not his last – I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Lily Dale!
Order Scaremonger right here.