My first introduction to Bryan Smith’s writing was his short story “Pilgrimage” in the Welcome to the Show anthology. After reading that, I knew I wanted to check out his novels. I’ve had House of Blood on my shelf for a while, and I couldn’t have picked a better time to read this one. I was wallowing in my emotional wreckage during the holidays, listening to and reading stories that made me cry. Everyone knows that I love to experience “all the feels” when I read, but sometimes one just needs a break. I decided that I’d read at least one book that might not make me cry, and this was that selection.
I was not disappointed by this story—it had all the makings of an entertaining piece of horror fiction. I’ll admit, when I read the synopsis, I was intrigued, but it had me thinking the story might be similar to those I’ve experienced in movies such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or “Wrong Turn”. While I would’ve been happy reading a common tale of backwoods terror, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this story had a unique premise and a lot more substance than expected.
House of Blood is not just a slasher story about friends who wander into the wrong place at the wrong time—there is a lot more to the story than what’s at the surface. I really felt like I was watching a great horror film while I was reading this. I thought that the pacing was well done, as there are minimal lulls in the action. While I didn’t personally connect with any of the characters, I definitely found myself rooting for some of them to make it out alive, and I enjoyed the dialogue. Overall I thought this novel had great balance—there’s plenty of sex, violence, and gore, but it’s not all thrown in the reader’s face at once. The author also gives just enough detail—it’s straight to the point without bogging down the story or boring the reader.
This was just the type of book I needed to shake up my reading, and at this point, there’s a lot more room on my shelf to explore the splatterpunk and extreme horror subgenres. I am excited to read more from Bryan Smith in the near future!