Review: Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith

Kill For Satan!
By Bryan Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kill for Satan! might be one of the most aptly named horror books I've read recently, its title perfectly capturing the breadth and depth of this particular story in three short, simple words. Bryan Smith's latest is dense with blood and mayhem, even if the plot and characters are paper thin, and its hundred or so pages move along pretty damn swiftly.

Plot-wise, Kill for Satan! is every bit as simple as its title indicates. Littleburg's Satanic coven is commanded by their Dark Lord to slaughter the tiny town's virgins on Halloween. That's it! This is an easy peasy, one and done kind of read. What you see is exactly what you get, and you best damn not ask for anything more, cause you ain't getting it!

Over the course of fourteen chapters (plus an epilogue!), Smith sends a spate of Satan worshipers door-to-door to carry out their kill spree. The story, what little of it there is, is primarily focused on Sindie and Micah, a pair of black-clad, machete wielding lovebirds. There's also Seth and Caitlin, two teens holed up in church for their twice-weekly Youth Abstinence League of Littleburg (YALL, hilariously enough, given the book's Bible Belt setting). Seth has the hots for her, and she probably doesn't even know he's alive.

Kill for Satan! is a quick and dirty romp of mad-dash carnage, written with a measure of tongue-in-cheek quirkiness that regularly reminds you Smith was having an abundantly good time writing this sucker, and probably cackling madly with glee along the way. Consider Micah, a recent convert to Sindie's devil worshiping ways, who muses over the escalating violence, that "one thing he knew from the two midnight masses he’d attended, there were a lot of Satanists in this little town. Like, a really shockingly high number of them." Or a brief explanation to a would-be victim during a familial massacre: "I'm sorry, sweetie. I do love you. But I love Satan more."

Published by Grindhouse Press, Kill for Satan! fits perfectly within the ethos of this particular small-press publisher. It's sleazy, cheesy, violent B-movie-styled slasher pulp, and it makes for an interesting second billing to the publisher's summer release, Cockblock. The artistic merit of high literature, depth of theme, and deeply drawn, soul-filled characters doesn't so much take the backseat as it much as it gets run over, backed over, and then ran over again and ground into the pavement by the more exploitative elements, with Smith focusing solely on sex and violence for this novella's slim duration. And, by the way, I do mean this in the best, most affectionate way possible! This is a compliment!

The aim of Kill for Satan! successfully hits its target. I got almost exactly what I wanted and expected from Smith's book. I do wish, though, that I could have gotten treated to a few extra bits of Shock Theater, and an extra chapter or two to familiarize ourselves with Seth and Caitlin wouldn't have hurt any, either. But you know what? It's a fair trade-off for that exceptionally, fantastically, terrifically composed Matthew Revert cover art. Hot damn, is that cover ever a beauty.

Smith's novella gets by purely on its trashy entertainment value and ridiculously high kill count. If you're looking for a book solely about Satanists killing everyfuckingbody, you'd be really hard pressed to do better than Kill for Satan!.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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