A huge thanks to Mike over at Parlor of Horror and the author of this novella for sending it over to me to read and review! If you don’t know Parlor of Horror, you should check it out!
By: Michael Thomas-Knight
Alex, a tattoo artist in Queens, NY, is being driven out of business by Johnny Needles, a rival tattoo artist connected to the local gangs and biker clubs. As he falls further into depression and drug abuse, Alex is drawn to a nameless book he saw at his neighbor’s apartment. The book haunts his dreams, until he can’t resist and he finally steals it. At his lowest point, in the basement of the tattoo parlor, Alex uses the book to call forth the Car Nex demon. He is completely unaware of what he is about to unleash upon the neighborhood.-Goodreads
Skin Job is book seven (according to Goodreads) of the Car Nex series. I haven’t read any of the previous ones but it doesn’t matter because these seem to be individual stories. We don’t need prior knowledge to enjoy it.
I am no expert in reading about occult or “monster violence”. In fact, I can go to the extent of saying that its one of the few genres I do actually read. It is also probably why there was some nerves and excitement when I started. Skin Job starts off in a rather slow way to build up the main character Alex and the situation he is in. However, novellas are short in length so it doesn’t take long to set it all up and charge up the tension as it all elevates and pretty much goes out of control. Characters in Skin Job are deliberately flawed. Alex wallows in his own mess while we can tell from the relationship with Johnny that he lacks a bit of ethics perhaps as well. No one is perfect. Johnny doesn’t exactly ask for us to root for him either. As far as charming characters go, they are definitely some of the smaller supporting characters which provide a change in dynamic, especially that of a neighborhood restaurant owner.
There are so many aspects of Skin Job and are done well. For one, the writing style is fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve read such a great use of vocabulary and descriptions in stories. The words just flow onto the page. It feels natural to picture the setting and the characters and everything that is happening which makes it more absorbing to watch. Along with that, it quickly elevates where the Car Nex demon is released and things just go out of control in the most violently fun way. The Car Nex monster is also one that needs to be more known because it seems to be a rather smart monster also.
Overall, Car Nex is a very well-written novella with a slow start that quickly picks up its pace and builds on the intensity especially after the Car Nex demon dies.