The Invasion, by Brett McBean, is a startlingly bleak home invasion story, but one that is wonderfully written. The opening paragraph alone delivers the goods and the promise of what's to come.
"There is something ominous about a front porch light glowing in the daytime. It speaks of a place left in limbo, of lives interrupted and of simple, everyday tasks forgotten. It signifies that for this house, night has yet to end."
Damn if that didn't suck me in right from the get-go!
The night is certainly long for the family tucked behind the once-believed secure walls of the Carmela house. Deb, a romance novelist, has just finished hosting Christmas dinner for her brother, his boyfriend, her niece, and literary agent. After the guests have tucked themselves into bed, they are brusquely awoken by strangers in the home, who then tie them up and taunt them before things escalate further. And then Mr. Fear arrives...
Although The Invasion is a straight-up home invasion horror, this is not a merely a burglary interrupted but a story of psychopathy and cultish belonging. For the invaders, it isn't about robbery so much as it's sheer entertainment for them, their enjoyment fueled by their victim's fright.
At times, McBean's work is downright savage, and he doesn't shy away from the cruelty of his crazy invaders, who get off on filming their horrendous crimes. The character work is nicely executed (no pun intended), and by the final pages I was really feeling for Deb, and her friends and family, and the devastation that's been unleashed upon them. McBean uses their shared history as both friends and family to give us insight into their past relationships with one another, and with the Carmela house itself. Although the focus is squarely on the humans within, the house itself provides the narrative with its shape and structure as each chapter takes us on a tour of the large residence.
The Invasion is a chilling story, and while it is violent it never delves into overdrawn sequences of torture porn. McBean relies on his characters and atmosphere to bring the biggest scares, along with the frightening threat of home invasion that many readers will bring to the reading all by themselves.
[Note: An advanced copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review.]