Publication Date: September 5, 2014
In Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain, Brennan Wade is on the run. After a DNA test for a job, he’s tied to murders he doesn’t remember. The killing doesn’t stop and Wade is forced to face his true nature. Can he stop the madness?
The author, Ryan McSwain, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
There’s a delicious darkness in McSwain’s writing. McSwain’s uniquely surreal style leaves readers wondering about the fine line between what is real and what is imagined. The true horror of the tale is the idea that Brennan Wade is an average guy when his life is turned completely upside down and the reason is seemingly beyond the control of the main character. Can he stop what he doesn’t have a conscious memory of doing?
Brennan is an intentionally difficult character to read. He swings freely through time throughout the story to give a fuller picture of the man who might or might not have embarked on a killing spree. At the start, he seems a fairly normal person and then secrets start to unfold. In a very real sense, Brennan isn’t sure what he’s capable of doing. Is he possessed? Is he being framed? The plot twists and turns that McSwain uses to mess with Brennan (and the readers) mind is nothing short of inspired. McSwain hearkens to Lovecraft, but I find it as much to be like Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island” to the reader’s palate. That isn’t to imply the book ends in the same way. The last quarter of In Monsters All the Way Down leaves readers in a mental tailspin. There’s something very unreal about Brennan from his encounters to the speed with which he travels without filling up his gas tank. On Page 34, McSwain shouts out to “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and that call-back is perfectly balanced to when his main character is one man against the civilized world.
Balancing the story for the reader is Joan. She is a survivor of the murderer that may or may not be Brennan and straightforward and pragmatic. In the story, she is the one person with her feet clearly on the ground that ties the story together for readers. When they meet again, she decides that if he’s back to finish the job, she’s going down fighting. She is a woman who has decided not to live in fear. The bite-sized chapter style that McSwain embraces works perfectly for his quick moving, quick changing story.
McSwain’s writing style is classic horror. In Monsters All the Way Down is designed to stay with readers for a long time. It is a uniquely terrifying tale. If you’re a fan of classic psychological horror, In Monsters All the Way Down is the story for you. Go with Brennan on the run to find the serial killer. A serial killer who may have been with us all along.
In Monsters All the Way Down is Ryan McSwain’s first full-length novel.
Read an excerpt and buy Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain on