Author: Chuck Tingle
Release date: May 9th, 2021
Let me tell you, if you want to have a fun conversation, sit down with your significant other and explain to them who Chuck Tingle is, what he writes and how he is a two-time Hugo Award Finalist. And just for giggles, show them some of his covers.
But, on a series note – here we are, Mr. Tingle’s first serious horror novella that is topical on several areas and has now made the preliminary ballot of the HWA Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction.
Chuck has over 350 books released, most are anthropomorphic gay erotica, and has a legion of fans who love his writing and wait with baited breath for each of his releases. And while we know the man who creates these ‘tinglers’ (as his books are called) is a pseudonym, that’s about all we truly know.
The synopsis of this one is both hilarious on the surface, but also serious when you dissect the meaning behind it and look deeper. This novella reminded me of the other recent works I’ve read; ‘The Blood Beast Mutations’ Carl John Lee, ‘Crazytimes’ by Scott Cole and even ‘Friday Night Massacre’ by Michael Patrick Hicks, where an event happens, a global pandemic of sorts occurs and people change and become ravenous, unhinged monsters.
What I liked: The story follows four friends on Saturation Day, as they head out to Joshua Tree in the hopes of staying safe. You see, three years ago a cosmic event occurred that turned every cisgender, straight individual into ravenous killing machines who sought out LGBTQIA2S+ individuals with the purpose to decimate them, eviscerate them and kill as many as they could. Consider it a sort of specifically targeted rabies. But, the following day, it would be gone and they’d have no recollection that it happened.
The world has been vaccinated (well most, you know some complaining about their rights and freedoms (sound familiar?)) but those in the queer community still know that Saturation Day is the scariest day of the year.
Tingle does a great job of setting up the story, bringing us along with the four friends as they try to remain relaxed, calm and prepared, but of course, this being a horror-novella, things take a turn and before you know it, the four friends and an unexpected fifth, are fighting for their lives and trying to find a way to escape.
The action is brisk and brutal, Tingle writing like a seasoned horror vet, and we get some really great emotional moments throughout.
I must add – the topical aspects of vaccination, straight allies and political sides works really well and offers some really unexpected think points, spots where you’ll stop and consider how you’d react in these situations as well.
The ending was great and gives us a glimmer of hope that maybe in the real world, soon we’ll see some sort of return to a ‘normal’ existence.
What I didn’t like: I didn’t fall into this category, but for those readers who might be, oh I don’t know, anti-vax, anti-mask, joining Facebook pages with ‘Freedom’ in the group title, or believing marriage is only between a man and a woman, I’d suggest you don’t give this a read. For every body else, you’ll love this.
Why you should buy this: Do you like survival stories? Fast-paced reads? Friends banding together? Blood thirsty killers who brainless want to eviscerate? Look no further. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of reading a topical novella that makes a lot of great points and does a great job of showing that queer characters are not just stereotypical ‘soft’ characters to have so they’ll be quickly killed off.
I’m glad to have finally read my first tingler, and I hope we see Mr. Tingle return to this genre again.