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June 14, 2024

Small Town Horror by Ronald Malfi ~ a Review

by MK French

Andrew Larimer left behind his small town upbringing to live in New York City as a lawyer with a wife about to give birth. When a former friend Dale calls him for help, he returns to that small town, lying to his wife about it. He reunites with his former best friends, facing the disaster in the present and memories of the night that drove them all apart nearly twenty years ago to the day. Somehow, this secret doesn't seem to be staying dead.

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book cover of horror novel Small Town Horror by Ronald Malfi
June 2024; Titan Books; 978-1803365657
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); horror

The secret that bound the five friends was revealed slowly, involving Robert Graves, the son of the spooky old woman that everyone said was the town witch. The five of them drifted apart in the wake of Robert's death, and now are starting to see him around. Birds behave strangely, a weird smell is in the basement of Andrew's childhood home, and trying to find out where Dale's wife is turns out to be a murder investigation. Through it all, their friend Eric is the current sheriff and takes charge of everything, telling Dale and Andrew how best to keep their heads level and the past hidden. Snippets of the past and of Robert's death keep coming back, both as visions and as guilt, until we find out everything about what happened back then and what's happening now.

Small towns are generally known to be places where everyone knows everyone else's business. As much as Andrew tried to hide his New York life from his small town one, the lies added up one after another. The horror isn't just the glimpses of madness and magic that we see, or the suspicions that Robert's mother always knew the truth about them, but also in how some of the former friends treat each other. They look after their own interests and their own needs and are willing to throw each other under the bus to do it. As much as some of them think they're cursed, their own guilt comes to the surface and turns them into the worst version of themselves. There were a few surprises at the end, lending credence to the feeling "We were doomed from the beginning."

Buy Small Town Horror at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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