Douglas Clegg Boils Frogs, or, This is How Rumors Start

You know that “fun fact” about the frog in boiling water? The one where if you drop the frog into water that’s already boiling it will freak out because it hurts; but if you put the frog in cool water, then turn on the heat, the frog will calmly sit there and boil to death because it doesn’t notice?

I like my horror to be like the second frog. If a horror story needs to startle it’s audience to get a reaction, it’s just not a good story. Don’t get me wrong, surprises and gore and gripping moments are also key, but the mood of the story has to come gradually, so that the audience doesn’t notice until it’s too late to get out.

Douglas Clegg’s novel Neverland delivers just this kind of delicious slow horror. He moves his characters seamlessly from the everyday horror of a family falling apart to the supernatural horror of devil-worshiping children.  The child characters are refreshingly convincing, and Clegg falls into neither of the two most overused stereotypes in horror: the paragon of innocence that must be protected, or the adult/demon in a a creepy child’s body.

The real kicker of this book is its ambiguous nature. Good and Bad, Right and Wrong have no real place here. There is just the Bad Choice and the Worse Choice, giving the story a level of complexity that is utterly chilling.

Neverland is due to be released in May, but it’s available now for preorder through Amazon. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put a library hold on one of Clegg’s other novels, because if they’re anything like this one, I’m an instant fan.

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