What Doesn’t Kill You by Ken Brosky Review

The best thing about the horror genre is that it allows for so much freedom, in terms of both invention and storytelling. It’s why I love the genre, and why I get a fear of missing out whenever I find, or hear about, an interesting book, be it something I’ve held at the library, discovered at a used book store, preordered, found as an ebook deal or been offered for review. I have a hard time passing on books, and that’s why my room is full of them and my to-be-read list features hundreds.

When I started reviewing books, I did so for fun and got the chance to check out some review copies that I requested, thanks to major and smaller publishers. Now, folks are emailing our website and asking me to read their books, which is honestly both flattering and appreciated. What Doesn’t Kill You by Ken Brosky is the first book review to result from that.

Although he seems to have written a number of books, I hadn’t heard of Ken Brosky until he emailed us and sent a finished copy over. I’d be interested in reading more from him though, because his latest book is a good one. If you’re a fan of small town horror, it should be up your alley.

What Doesn’t Kill You is set in the small, unincorporated area of Seven Sisters, which is located in middle of nowhere America. Those passing through — provided they use the old highway and not the new one — will find a post office, a general store, a church, an old motel and a number of houses located on a few nearby streets. However, the motel is no longer a place for travellers to spend the night, and is now home to a substance abuse recovery program run by the church. This plays an integral role in the book of note, because some of its characters are recovering addicts, and the motel is an important setting like the church.

Things begin as a large shipping container is brought to a grain feed silo and treatment facility, where its cargo is left. What’s found inside is an odd looking statue, which begins to move all of a sudden. Said statue resembles a naked woman with no nipples, who happens to have a beehive instead of a head. One that is full of black bees. On top of that, she has odd bone protrusions coming out of her elbows and elsewhere.

When this unexpected monster visitor awakens, the townsfolk start to become aware of danger. Well, some do. The result is a monster slash slasher book, which kept me wondering what would happen next, and always had me thinking about its origins. Reading this 262 page novel was never a chore, and I got through it pretty quickly.

The only real issue I had with What Doesn’t Kill You is that it lacked a bit of gel, or flow. It features a number of characters, and it could be argued that there are too many, given that the story jumps from one set to another on a very regular basis. This kind of kept me from identifying with our protagonists as much as I’d hoped, and didn’t allow me to become hooked into the story as well as I’d wanted to. I think that, if this narrative had been a bit more focused, it would’ve been better.

As it stands, we meet the majority of the residents of Seven Sisters, whose town is threatened on a normal night. One that just so happens to have a massive snowstorm going on, which obscures tracks and makes it hard for people to get around, especially in an unincorporated area that hasn’t been plowed. We spend that night with newly pregnant teen, Val, her mother and also her brother, Danny, who’s spending the night with two other friends his age. Then, there are the addicts seeking help, a woman named Emma who’s returning to her hometown after a long absence, the bar keeper, a police officer and more.

The characters definitely had good depth, for the most part, but there were a lot of them and things jumped around quite a bit.

What Doesn’t Kill You was also a welcomed surprise in terms of writing, as it’s a well written novel with only a few small errors. The only one that wasn’t a minor spelling mistake related to a character who grabbed her snowshoes before leaving a building, but then didn’t have them on the next page. That hardly affected much, though, and errors happen. I was pleasantly surprised by this book from a small publisher, given how well written and thought out it is.

At the end of the day, What Doesn’t Kill You by Ken Brosky is an imperfect but rather good horror novel, which will appeal to fans of small town horror, monsters, slashers and creature features. It’s well written, has good characters and tells a story worth reading. Check it out if you’re looking for something new to read.

This review is based on a finished copy of the book, which we were provided by the author.

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