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Along The River of Flesh


Kristopher Triana

Along The River of Flesh
average rating is 3 out of 5

Extreme, Horror, Thriller, Disturbing, Supernatural

R. Alex Jenkins

Along The River of Flesh is enjoyably extreme but not as good as the original because of the inferior ending and lower impact.

You can't get it spot on every time and adding increased amounts of gore instead of concentrating on great storylines, plot or conclusion, is a way to get noticed instead of focusing on truly believable characters and rational behaviour. This isn't a great book because of that, but a very okay one that perhaps tries too hard.

For example, The Exorcist IS a GREAT book even though it doesn't get fully going until 80%, because of how brilliantly it ties in personal relationships with gradually impending terror.

The horror comes from not being able to identify the devil or why it behaves that way. It simply does.

Here we have Gary, a private detective with deep connections and roots, who also happens to be a pointless protagonist with no real purpose other than to make others seem more extreme than him.

Keith, is the corrupt cop, who progressively turns into an extremely ugly character as his backstory unfolds as he goes from extreme to worse to off the charts. As with Gary, this also feels unnecessary, as competition for Edmund Cox himself to personify the devil.

There's no sense of good vs bad at all in this book. Everyone is f*cked up in multiple ways. There are no heroes charging on the black gate in Mordor for the ultimate pointless battle where evil always wins.

Where are the furry hobbits to counteract all that pesky evil?

No good guys? Just evil, more evil and cannon fodder?

Along The River of Flesh tries to constantly diversify (hide the lack of plot) by continuously switching to new perspectives and characters, which seems fresh at the beginning but fails to build enough tension by the end. The river of flesh aspect of the first book was merely the backdrop, a sort of psychedelic Apocalypse Now experience if you like through coppery waters, rather than the fundamental part of the story as it is here.

In this second installment, the river of flesh is practically everything - an allegory for hell - with the river man becoming an allegory for the devil. Book one succeeds because it uses these elements as the backdrop only, but in book two, it's the lynchpin of arriving in the backwoods town of Killen, traversing the paths and accompanying river and gradually finding a conclusion.

Book one went full circle, from allegorical hell and back again into crazy reality as it shocks and shatters, with a brilliant conclusion that's a splatterpunk classic.

Kristopher Triana is a good extreme horror author and I recommend his work, but it's hard to justify the sudden changes in character behaviour as they try to compete with each other for high-stakes depravity. There's only one serial killer, Edmund Cox, and we don't need more.

I'm not condemning this book, but it feels like a feeder into a future series of books about Edmund Cox and his inbred community. I’m still interested in that but I don’t want to humanize dark characters or know anything about their mindsets or what makes them tick.

This is one of the reasons why Offspring by Jack Ketchum isn't as good as the original, Off Season, because it strays into the mental viewpoint of evil characters instead of remaining purely evil and out of reach.

Essentially, Along The River of Flesh cashes in on the success of Gone To See The River Man, which isn't a bad thing but doesn’t necessarily make for original or enthralling reading.

Also, there are a lot of grammatical and editing mistakes in my Kindle version:

"...information I'm not privy too." (to)

"We don't know who this belongs too." (to)

"The old man was signing in a high voice..." (singing)

"...trying to find closer" (closure)

"grandma often made 'dtthemselveshes' for Reverend Lawrence." (whatever that means?)

These need to be corrected!

This is a decent book and, who knows, Kristopher Triana may be able to live of this and other sequels for many years to come, more power to his elbow, but I'm breaking from the River of Flesh series for now to get back to more fulfilling storytelling.

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