Its October, time for horror novels. (Or, horror novels as “horror” as I can stand, let’s say.) However, sometimes there are just horrible novels. Savage Island by Brian Moreland was published in 2021 by the now defunct Silver Shamrock Publishing. I feel I ought to mention that the publisher did not cease because of Moreland’s book here. Anyway, I do own (unread) another novel by Moreland and published by Flame Tree Press: Tomb of the Gods (2020). Savage Island is only 144 pages – I am not sure if that is a novelette/novella, etc. It is not a typical “full-length” novel.
It takes a bit more effort for me to decide to pick up a “horror genre” novel. The reason that I thought I might give this one by Moreland a try is because I am okay with the concept of survival on a wild, bizarre island. The blurb on the back has this line: “On an isolated island in the Philippines, it patiently waits. A mysterious terror lurks in the shadows, stalking the poor stranded souls who visit the island.” In other words a mysterious terror in an isolated “exotic” location, which to me sounds a lot better than some religious-oriented horror in a dank old house with creepy dolls. (My concept of horror is astounding, I know!)
Boy, was I disappointed in this turd. I went and looked at reviews here and there online and it makes me wonder if something shady is going on with the ratings. I mean, this was a pretty big stinker. So, if an author has about 145 pages to work with – every page counts. But the first half of the book (through page 62) was really super awful and had very, very nothing to do with the “savage island.” To make matters worse, these 62 pages are filled with the most hideous tripe of tropes ever to be trapped on a page. I mean, just awful – truly nasty and stupid. If, and this is a huge question, the author was attempting to make the characters seem likeable or relatable, he absolutely fails completely.
Not to mention, sex and vulgarity and depravity. One character in particular is especially nasty – he has four ex-wives and a weird Oedipus complex. He also is all about rape or whatever. Its awful. You would think, though, that he is that one character. But in this little fiction with very few characters – no more than a dozen, for sure – he is not EVEN the worst criminal creep in the thing! The other nasti-character is discussed in past tense – he was a weirdo pedophile who abused one of the female characters and is, implicature here, the reason she is a wanton wild person with hideous taste in boyfriends. I throw my hands in the air with this crap – yes, its a horror novel, but not because of the sentient savage island.
No one wants to read this crap. Really. Its super trash. In for a penny, in for a pound – I read to the end. The tone of the novel kind of changes (though not completely) after chapter eleven. Still the horror of a remote mysterious island is absent. It falls completely flat and is dull and pointless. Any potential at all is wasted and lost. The rest of the book amounts to wasted paper.
I do not want to be terrified. I do, however, want to be engaged in and enthusiastic about what I am reading. I was hoping for a scary island. I got a stupid trope-y vulgarity with a few plants and vines thrown in at the end. Not recommended.