US Mass Market Paperback
359 pages; $5.50
Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 1999
Some authors approach horror with violence. Tom Piccirilli approaches horror with malevolence, pure evil. It's frightening and effective. In 'Hexes', Piccirilli cranks up the terror with poetic prose and surreal suggestions. Unfortunately, the same mix applied to plotting ultimately dilutes the effectiveness of his novel, makes 'Hexes' a mixed success. But Picciirilli writes with real passion, and even when he's treading water, he's doing so in a largely entertaining manner.
'Hexes' begins with the traditional return of the prodigal son. Matthew Galen is returning to the small east-coast town of Summerfell, where his best friend is imprisoned in a madhouse for the brutal murders of some local children. Piccirilli's prose is evocative and flows well. He deftly draws the lines of a larger evil behind the present. Everyone here has a dark past.
In the end however, that past remains too dark for too long. As events in the present build to a horrific conclusion, events in past drag on too slowly to reinforce the horrors unfolding before our eyes. What once seemed poetic starts to seem like a twenty-something horror movie. Piccirilli gets back his atmosphere in the final pages, but his chance for the home run has passed. The reader will feel as wistful for the lost potential of the novel as the characters feel for the lost potential of their lives. But 'Hexes' shows that Piccirilli has great potential, and that Leisure can break quality new fiction. This is what the joy of grocery store book shopping is all about.