HIVE by Alex Smith (Muzzleland Press)
With HIVE, Alex Smith explores the world of urban paranoia with a Cronenbergian precision. The story follows the relationship of Mark and Carolyn as they try to piece things together following the decision to have an abortion. The act causes an emotional rift in their relationship, which they seek to close by moving out of their matchbox sized, loft apartment. As you can expect, it’s upon moving into their new apartment where things start to get creepy and weird. As to not spoil any more of the plot, let me just say that what follows is goddamn awesome.
Despite it’s short length, Smith manages to pack a whole lot of emotional realism in to the main characters and the rebuilding of their relationship. For all its paranoia, HIVE is a deeply human book. In that way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith was, along with the aforementioned Cronenberg, a fan of JG Ballard, as HIVE reads like a condensed horror take on the classic Ballard formula. There are some genuinely unsettling moments in HIVE. One of my favorite scenes recalls a total VideoDrome vibe, in the best possible way. I would also like to point out how sharp the book looks, because that cover is simple and effective as fuck.
Smith is now on my to-watch list for up and coming horror writers. Given that HIVE is his debut, I’m sure that he’s got a whole lot of awesomeness to share with us all, and I look forward to getting my hands on what he does next and smashing it into my brain as quickly as possible. HIVE is honest, paranoid, human horror for when you want things to get hallucinatory and creepy. I highly recommend this bit of weirdness to all interested in a fresh voice in the horror genre. (Sam Richard)