Castles Burning by Keith Wayne McCoy

BURNING
Castles Burning by Keith Wayne McCoy
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (40 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Wil Warner is a tormented son tossed about by the waves of both parents. His father is a beautiful but simple father and husband, and his mother is a narcissistic woman obsessed with the art of acquisition and the relentless climb to the top of society. After his father’s death, an adult Wil is left to face the ultimate horror of his mother’s mental illness.

Not every terrifying thing in this world has a supernatural origin.

Horror isn’t necessarily just about blood and guts. One of the things that first attracted me to it was how versatile this genre can be. As a fan of Mr. McCoy’s previous work, I was intrigued by what he’d come up with this time as the last book I read from him was from a completely different genre. He made the transition nicely, though, and has definitely piqued my interest. It will be fun to see where he goes with his next project.

Even though Wil is the main character, there wasn’t a great deal of time spent developing his personality. Almost everything I learned about him was due to his reactions to his severely mentally ill mother. The glimpses of Wil’s harsh childhood made me wince, but I would have really liked to see more examples of how those experiences shaped him into who he became as an adult.

With that being said, secondary characters were well drawn. Stories that explore dysfunctional families are utterly fascinating to me. Almost anything can feel normal if someone is exposed to it early enough in life or for a long period of time, but that doesn’t mean that those things are actually healthy or safe. It was interesting to see how the people around Wil responded to their circumstances. Based on what I’ve observed in real life, it was also chillingly accurate.

I’d recommend Castles Burning to anyone who enjoys horror that’s set in a realistic, contemporary environment.

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