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Book Review: Beneath

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester
This novel promises a tale of a reporter investigating an apocalyptic cult. This novel lies. Cora, an interminably annoying reporter, heads off to bother some uneducated hicks about their religion. Cora has what she thinks is a gritty, courageous and robust refusal to be beaten but it is just shouty anxiety. Cora causes deep frustration with her moral seriousness and disastrous decisions; she nurses resentment about sins of the past and wishes to lower the reputation of the local hellfire preacher.

Nothing horrifically shocking, ghoulishly creative or brilliantly daft happens. Cora is comically earnest as a fraught situation gets worse. This is not a downbeat tale of creeping unease. It’s just a decidedly sleazy tale of a loud-mouthed reporter and a fairly useless lying preacher who ignores all muttered disquiet as gross insinuations fly. There is no sense of grimness or slow terrifying realisation.

Cora nastily assesses everyone and hates the preacher and everything he stands for. People are desperately irresponsible as a staunch adversary lurks. Said adversary should be incredibly menacing but isn’t. Nothing genuinely horrifying happens. Nothing sinister simmers. There is just a campy mock-solemn pervading evil. Narrative is optional in this laughable ‘horror’.

Cora is indignant and aggrieved and creates a toxic dynamic by being tense and judgemental. Local religious nutter Ruth and her ill-fated daughter Leah are the equivalent of Carrie White’s mother and Carrie from ‘Carrie’. You care about none of these people or their tearful anguish or a lurking Lovecraftian horror from time immemorial. Their travails and this book bore. It’s life-sapping to read.

Best Lines:
“Don’t stop for anything. Not even if it looks human.”

“The sad realities of their pitiful lives.”

“That group of Children of the Corn wannabes.”
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