by Chase Novak
Fiction — Horror / Speculative Fiction
Mulholland Books; September 4, 2012
From the back cover:
Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives–fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after another, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire…but with awful consequences.
Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked in their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.
Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.
Let me get the things I wasn’t particularly fond of out of the way:
1. As with more than one book I’ve read lately, the foreshadowing in the beginning section of Breed is in-your-face obvious. It left little open for speculation in the “ten years later” section of the book.
2. There are pieces of the plot and a few characters that Chase Novak brings into the story and then just drops without wrapping things up. If those characters and situations were important enough to have a place in the book, then they should have been important enough to do something with later on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop wondering about these things and it made my reading experience a little less enjoyable. **Spoilers: (For example, I think more should have been done with Bernard. And what happened to the Johnsons? I know we can infer this from the Twisdens’ outcome, but I think it’s weird that they just fell out of the story. What was the outcome of Leslie attacking the dermatologist? Are we to assume that the Twisdens’ wealth got her out of any major punishment? This annoyed me the most. With everything the Twisdens were going through, this could have been a huge problem for them, and beyond a little talk about it, it was conveniently ignored. Last but not least, how in the world–realistically–could all of those adults have just disappeared from their jobs, families, and society without anybody looking for them?) End of spoilers**
With those two issues aside, Breed is a pretty creepy book. There is something about children being involved in horror stories that will always make my skin crawl more than it usually would while reading a story of this nature. I think what makes Breed particularly creepy is the internal conflict Alex and Leslie are going through concerning their children–a fierce need to protect Adam and Alice at all costs, mixed with…something terrifying. Let’s just say that the twins don’t get locked in their rooms every night for just any old reason.
Overall, I was sufficiently freaked out by this book, and a lot of that had to do with Novak’s decision to hold back on his descriptions of the horror bits. There are a few detailed descriptions of what I call “the yucky stuff,” but more often Novak gives readers just enough to allow their imaginations to take over. When it comes to my imagination, this is far scarier than if I have the entire yucky description handed to me. This is Novak’s first horror novel, so I don’t know whether this lack of detail was intentional, or whether it is just an extension of what I mentioned above in #2, but it works very well for this aspect of the book.
Although it has its issues, Breed is a real page-turner. Novak does a good job of writing about a different–but no less intense–relationship between parents and their children, and what lengths some people will go to in order to have children, even if that means dealing with terrifying consequences.
(To learn more about Chase Novak–the pseudonym for Scott Spencer–please visit his author page on the HarperCollins website.)
**If you choose to purchase this title using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher through BOOK CLUB.)