Book Review: The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

If you’re looking for a story that will truly scare the hell out of you and skitter around the inside of your skull long after you’ve read the last word, you’ve found it in The Hatching.

As avid scholars of the dark and disturbing, we frequently call certain horror fiction and movies terrifying or horrifying. And while that’s sometimes true, the fact is that it’s actually pretty rare. As longtime readers, watchers, and listeners of dark fiction of all sorts, we’ve become numb to the things that used to scare us. It takes more than blood and splatter, more than ghosts, vampires, and other traditional monsters to give us a true scare. Which raises the question: what does it take? Is it really even definable? Sometimes the answer to that is no, as in Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, a book with the power to scare the hell out of you but one that is difficult to really express what it is that makes it so chilling. Other times when a book scares us, the reason is obvious, and one of the types of horror that can scare even the most hardcore of fans is critter fiction. A terrifying example of that is the late, great James Herbert’s breakout novel, The Rats. Another book that more than fits the mold is the one we’re talking about today, Ezekiel Boone’s horrific new novel The Hatching.

So what is The Hatching and what makes it so chilling? The answer to those questions is one and the same. It’s a story about creepy-crawly, clicking-skittering flesh-eating spiders. About now you’re thinking, “There’s a trope that’s been done to death a couple thousand times over. What makes this story any different?” And there’s a simple reason. It is different. In every way imaginable it is nothing like any other arachnophobic terror trip you’ve ever taken. Because in The Hatching you don’t just get spiders taking over a house or a town, you don’t get tiny men doing battle with giant spiders, you get an all-out spider epidemic that threatens to take over the entire planet.

The Hatching commences innocuously enough with a tour guide leading a group of hikers through the Peruvian jungle, a trip made slightly uncomfortable by a sick billionaire who has to stop to empty his bowels every few minutes. But the trip goes from uncomfortable to bad to outright hellish in a matter of minutes as the group is overtaken and eaten by thousands of ravenous spiders with seemingly only one purpose in life: to eat every living thing it their path. It’s no surprise that the book has already been optioned for film as it reads with all the sensibilities of a low budget Sunday afternoon creature feature, one that somehow managed to cast the best actors in the business in all the starring roles. And the characters are largely the reason the book succeeds so incredibly well. There are many scenes that could quickly go from the fantastic to the ridiculous without the support of Boone’s well developed characters as they face impossible challenges in entirely human, believable fashion, responding to every situation in exactly the way you would expect them to given their extensive backstories. Boone bounces around from place to place and character to character with the confidence and adeptness of a major player in the horror industry.

Indeed, if The Hatching is not a fluke but an indication of Ezekiel Boone’s talent, he soon will be a major talent in the industry. His prose is top-shelf, poetic, and engaging, and his ability to jump around and to build backstory without ever straying off track is nothing short of incredible. He has an aptitude with character driven story and dialogue driven action and plot development that is unsurpassed—even unmatched—by few modern masters of the genre. Boone writes like a man possessed, his plot as twisted and tangled as the Peruvian jungle but never confusing, the storyline never falling off track as he guides you on an apocalyptic horror fest through a world being rapidly consumed by a plague unlike anyone’s ever prepared for. Your zombie contingency plans are worthless to you here and it seems like the best thing anyone can hope for is a quick and painless demise, which is a thing that rarely happens in this terrible tale. There is much screaming and face eating—yes, face eating—sometimes from the outside in, sometimes vice versa.

Many will not have heard of this author before now. The Hatching is the first book he’s written under the name Ezekiel Boone, but it is solid proof that the man can tell a story with the best of the best. His plot is well thought out, the pacing is excellent, and his characters can be described as nothing less than phenomenal. They make the story, keeping you fully engaged and invested in their fate, a fate that it seems will rest largely on a core group of characters as they stop at nothing in their efforts to save the dying world. But Boone is a wily young author and he leaves this one wide open for a sequel, one that will be very welcome indeed. The Hatching is nothing short of amazing. If Boone stays on track and continues to produce this level of quality fiction, it won’t be surprising to hear his name mentioned in company with Brian Keene and Stephen King on a regular basis. He’s truly that good. If you’re looking for a story that will truly scare the hell out of you and skitter around the inside of your skull long after you’ve read the last word, you’ve found it in The Hatching.


Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
eBook: (352pp)
Release Date: 5 July, 2016

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