Surprisingly, the plot of Slasher hasn’t been done to bits within the horror community, which is actually kind of strange when you think about how simple, yet smart the idea is. Actual scream queens thrust into a real-life horror predicament. Horror actresses fighting for their lives against a true flesh-and-blood faniac! (A maniac fan. I made it up.)
The notion has been touched upon in movies like The Last Horror Film and Scream 3, and slightly in short stories and TV crime procedurals, but strangely enough never fully explored.
Until perhaps now.
WD Jackson’s novel Slasher takes that exact premise, that someone is literally hacking and slashing their way through Hollywood’s scream queens, and builds a smart little story from it, blending a crime thriller with meta-horror in a way that worked a lot better than I anticipated.
My favorite bits, surprise surprise, came when the modern scream queens came face to face with their real world slasher. Despite most of them meeting a bloody end, I really loved how the women drew some of their survival instincts from the final girl characters they once portrayed on the silver screen. It was fun to have them knock down traditional slasher film tropes in a “real world” situation.
It was also really great to have a “hero” in the story who was flawed in a unique way. Sgt. Joshua Matthews is smart and good at his job, but while he’s haunted by the past, his biggest enemy is himself. He’s an over-thinking, over- caffeinated, down on himself kind of guy, which seems to be a breath of fresh air when most other fictional detectives are of the grizzled, tormented, alpha male, tough as nails types. Jackson is smart with the rest of his cast too, giving all his characters ample room to tell their own story without leaving you feeling over burdened with back-stories and information. The scream queens the plot itself deals with play as much a starring role as our main character Joshua, without causing confusion.
All in all, I’d recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys thrillers or horror, especially those fond of slasher films and meta-horror. With a book that pokes playfully at the slasher movie formula, while at the same time following its traditional course of kill-investigate-kill-reveal, you won’t be disappointed.
For those interested, you can keep up with Jackson’s work and more Joshua Matthews’ Thrillers over at facebook.com/wdjbooks, or by following @wdejackson.