Afraid By Jack Kilborn Has Heads That Roll, Literally
In my view, Afraid by Jack Kilborn is a well-written, relentlessly fast paced horror novel. It is not for children or squeamish adults. People are hacked apart and brutally tortured. Fingers and toes are cut or bitten off, and a seven-foot hulk of a man with super human strength rips off heads because he enjoys it, and in one scene, they roll, literally . If you don’t like to think about such unpleasantries, possibly Black Beauty or one of Nicholas Sparks books might be more appealing. Why read or review a book you will hate before you turn the first page?
Afraid begins with a helicopter crash outside a small rural town where a high school basketball game may be the most exciting event of the year. The sheriff soon discovers the helicopter blades did not cause the decapitations of the crew; someone with inhuman strength severed their necks intentionally after the crash. The body count grows as a red-ops team of five psychopaths commit unspeakable acts to find the answer to one simple question, “Where is Warren Streng?”, who is the Sheriff’s reclusive brother.
I loved Kilborn’s diversity in giving each psychopath his own special interrogation methodology such as burning, biting, devouring, manipulating fractured bones, and tearing off heads.
The villains in Afraid in terms of black and white characterization are black black. At no time do any of the depraved maniacs show a hint of gray or a shred of remorse as they torture their pitiful victims with orgasmic delight while they beg for the mercy of death. These men in black are deliciously rotten to the core.
In this David and Goliath tale, the elderly sheriff and a handful of town yokels take on what Kilborn describes as “five Hannibal Lecters with Rambo training and transhuman modifications.” They are more aggressive, faster, stronger, and can withstand more pain and extreme conditions than a normal human, They also have a chip in their heads that makes them programmable.
Despite a few annoyances Jack introduced during the story such as a child hero, an overly protective mother, a dog, and a monkey, his story is a spellbinding journey of raw, pulse-puonding death and dismemberment. I was totally entertained throughout, and I believe this book held my interest from beginning to end as much as any book I’ve ever read, which is saying something.
As you will find, Kilborn appears to be a strong advocate of decreasing the population, at least in the town of Safe Haven, as he weaves his plot to its satisfying conclusion. If Jack’s intention by including the boy, the dog, and the monkey in the story was to expand his readership to lovers of Black Beauty and Nicholas Sparks fans, I doubt his attempt was successful in a story where every sidebar of “Isn’t that cute” was immediately drenched with a splash of blood. In fact, the inclusion may have turned off some of his horror fanatics. I agree with one of the other reviewers who suggested it is hard to imagine a child or an animal being maimed, tortured or in real peril even in a horror novel.
In spite of the fluff, I still rate Afraid a five on my horror meter.