Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Scratch is a brief pulp horror novella by Brian Keene. The story centers on a giant snake known as “Old Scratch,” who haunts Susqehanna River. After a particularly powerful storm, the creature extends its range into a small creek behind the Fisher home. Now, graphic artist Evan Fischer and his neighbors are in peril. Old Scratch is hungry.
Scratch is your standard giant monster of the week fare. A creature of local lore proves that he is more than hillbilly superstition. His size and strength are formidable and our heroes do the best they can with small arms fire. Can they drive Old Scratch back to the Susqehanna?
Giant monster tropes hit their heyday in cinema during the 1950s and 1960s. Recently, the genre has seen a resurgence in literature, under authors such as Hunter Shea. Scratch is a decent addition to this current trend. It is not ground breaking, but executes the accepted formula with near perfection.
Brian Keene is a gem for horror literature. He writes in an accessible fashion which has the potential to crossover into mainstream media. Scratch is not one of his more memorable stories, but it is not a waste either.
If you enjoy monster stories, Scratch is a great find. The story is short and focuses on building suspense. The protagonists are almost peripheral. It is about a giant snake eating people.