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Review Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

As always I want to start by saying that I was given an ARC of this to review. My review is honest and left voluntarily.

Black Mouth is an addictive horror that pays homage to the likes of Stephen King’s IT while still delivering an atmospheric unique tale. It is clear Ronald Malfi knows the genre of horror well and is a accomplished story teller.

Black Mouth follows four adults as they return to their home town to confront an evil they were exposed to as teenagers. A master at building suspense we feel the dread and tension our protagonists experience as they come closer to the truth of what happened summers before. Together Jamie Warren, his estranged brother Dennis, Mia and Clay must all come face to face with a man who may well turn out to be a monster and confront their own demons along the way.

As always I don’t like spoiling a novel by going too depth to the plot. What I will say is the pacing was addictive. You feel you have to keep reading to find out the mystery of it all. With a few twists and turns along the way this truly is an horror come crime thriller that you will not be able to put down. The characters, while not perfect, are all well rounded and so human it is refreshing. Jamie in particular was a fantastic choice for a protagonist. He fails, he’s scared, he’s in some ways broken but still he keeps going. Normally he is the kind of character I would not root for but honestly it’s hard not to when you see him progress and overcome the events of one fateful summer.

As well as the characters the descriptions and setting are so unsettling. Towards the end of the novel Malfi utilises the idea of a sort of liminal space to amazing affect. As someone who loves horror even I was unsettled then. It was perfect.

The only one flaw I found was more to personal taste which is the trope of animals being hurt in the horror genre. It always unsettles me and oftentimes I find it used more for shock value than an actual plot point. Thankfully, while I still don’t enjoy it, Malfi does have justification and doesn’t just use it for this shock value. The events are there for reason and do serve a purpose which is why I did not deduct half a star. Even if personally I would have preferred an off page anecdote.

Blending magic, supernatural, horror and human morality Malfi in Black Mouth manages to create a gripping terrifying read that I am still thinking about now.


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