A Review of Jack Kilborn’s Debut Novel, Afraid

I read a blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing written by an author named J.A. Konrath. He is the creator of the “Jack” Daniel’s thriller series and is now taking a stab (punny, eh?) at the horror genre with his first novel in that vein, Afraid.

As a regular reader of Joe’s (I hope he doesn’t mind if I call him that), I discovered he was going on one of his earth-scorching book tours but this time instead of relentlessly canvasing the countryside personally, he was taking to the blogosphere to see once and for all if book blog touring was the wave of the future as it is being touted. 

Joe offered himself up as a guest blogger to whoever would have him and gave away 50 copies of his yet to be released Afraid to anyone who wanted to read and review it online. In fact, the reviewer who posts the most reviews of Afraid will be honored by Joe with a character named after him or her in his next novel, and who wouldn’t want to be a sociopath or dismembered for losing his/her virginity in direct violation of the rules of surviving the rampage of a serial killer?

I received my copy of Afraid just before our now infamous trip to Revelstoke. I had fully intended to read it while “vacationing” but drunken college students and severe sleep deprivation kept me from it. Once home and rested to the point of function, I tackled it again. I even read it at night, snuggled up to the hubby who is between me and the door.

If you like grisly, fast-paced, nary a break from the suspense or action horrific novels, this is your book. I kid you not.

Afraid is set in the small town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin, a very tiny and isolated town that unexpectedly finds itself at ground zero as a secret military unit, programmed to commit unspeakable acts of terrorism against civilian populations, is somehow deployed on American soil late one night when the helicopter transporting them crashes in the nearby woods.

What follows redefined horror for me, and I am in awe of the attention to detail and flawless manner in which the author set scenes, established and connected characters and laid the foundations which become a solid structure for the story to unfold and claim as its own.

There were many moments when I was reminded of Stephen King, who I consider to be the master when it comes to creating believable characters in situations that defy normality. I was also quite impressed with the way the author wove in current events with historical information in a way that was both accurate and chilling.

At it’s heart, it is a horror story. There is much gore and painfully graphic attention is paid to detail. People die in some of the grisliest ways imaginable although I was strangely pleased to see that even those victims who are marked for death in the way that anyone who has ever watched a slasher film can recognize them as a goner, most of them fought back. 

I really liked all the main characters. They rang true at every level for me, and I was glad to see the author give them the same physical invincibility that the killers got. They took their lickings but kept getting up. I think that is more true to what most real people are like in dire situations. The survival instinct is much stronger than Hollywood movies would lead us to believe.

If you like a good scare and love tales of serial killing laced with government cover-up and conspiracy theories, this is the read you have been searching for, and if you would like to meet Joe (or put him up for the night now that he is on his “live” book tour), click here.

7 thoughts on “A Review of Jack Kilborn’s Debut Novel, Afraid

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