The Qwillery | category: Nick Cutter


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Little Heaven
Author:  Nick Cutter
Publisher:  Gallery Books, July 11, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback
List Price:  US$17.00
ISBN:  9781501104237
Previously:  Hardcover and eBook,  January 10, 2017

Review: Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
A “gripping and terrifying story…and one not to be missed” (Robert McCammon) from the acclaimed author of The Troop and The Deep!

A trio of mismatched mercenaries—Micah Shughrue, Minerva Atwater, and Ebenzer Elkins, colloquially known as “the Englishman”—is hired by young Ellen Bellhaven for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven, where a clandestine religious cult holds sway. But shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. There are stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—and above all else, the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust soon grip the settlement. Escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral toward madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. All present here are now forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is marshaling its power—and it wants them all…

“A slow boil of unrelenting terror and inescapable consequences. Nick Cutter ups his game every time. Beautifully written—menace drips from every page.” —Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

“A sprawling epic that can stand alongside the best of ‘80s King, Barker, and McCammon. Fun, nasty, smart, and scary, and in all the right places.” —Paul Tremblay, acclaimed author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

Brannigan's Review

I’ve read and reviewed Nick Cutter before, and, once again, I was very entertained. Little Heaven is a time-jumping, monster-hunting, rescue mission. You heard me right, there’s a lot going on in this one, and yet Cutter’s skill at balancing everything without it getting cluttered or confusing is on point. In my previous Cutter review of The Troop, I mentioned he isn’t afraid of the gore, and this book also shows us that he’s not afraid of tickling your gag reflex.

Our heroes are Micha, Ebenezer and Minerva, a gun-toting band of mercenaries with a long history. They get the band back together to rescue a young boy in a dangerous cult. Cutter spends some time revealing their relationship by jumping back and forth between 1966 and 1980. While on this rescue mission, we learn that there are monsters hiding in the forests surrounding the compound. All of this is very familiar to Micha’s past and his long-lost daughter.

I’ve read from some other reviewers that Cutter borrows heavily from the King of Horror, but as I’ve never been a big fan of his I can’t speak to that. What I can say is that Cutter knows how to write action and horror in a very unique and engaging way. The only thing I’d change would be less gore, but I don’t see Cutter stopping this anytime soon. One thing I really liked in this book is the illustrations, there are not a lot, but I’ve always wished they were used more in Adult Fiction. There’s one illustration that I found particularly creepy.

Nick Cutter knows how to keep his readers turning pages and Little Heaven is no exception. As long as you don’t mind getting creeped out by the monsters and gore, you’ll enjoy this one. There is plenty of Adult Language and violence so this one is for Adults only. If you like your horror mixed with action, you’ll want to pick this one up.

Interview with Nick Cutter - June 24, 2015

Please welcome Nick Cutter to The Qwillery. The Acolyte was published by ChiZine Publications in May 2015.

Interview with Nick Cutter - June 24, 2015

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, panster or a hybrid of the two?

Nick:  I think trying to keep up my production with a new family. A son, love him to death though I do, makes it tough to write as much as I used to. I was always used to writing 6, often 7 days a week. Now it's 5, if I'm lucky. Weekends are spent with the family. And if my son gets sick or we have something planned, of course he comes first. So it's a new challenge. I'm a pantser. I know plotters, I see people having great success with it. For me … maybe it's symptomatic of a scattered mind, but I don't think I'd be able to follow an outline even if I diligently wrote one!

TQThe Acolyte is your third published novel after The Troop (2014) and The Deep (2015). What distinguishes The Acolyte from the The Troop and The Deep?

Nick:  I think The Acolyte deals with more real-life fears—the first two books deal with our primal fears, I'd say, but there's a fantastical aspect to them in that they couldn't actually happen. Not that I think the events in The Acolyte are likely to happen, either, but the fears there are more having to do with religious intolerance, religious terror in a way, man's inhumanity to man, and as such it feels more of a "real world" book in that I'm trying to comment at least a little on present-day events and what scares me when I look at the world around me.

TQPlease describe The Acolyte in 140 characters or less.

Nick:  The church has become the state. A task force, The Acolytes, are entrusted with stamping out all base faiths. (is that too many characters?)

TQPlease tell us something about The Acolyte that is not found in the book description.

Nick:  There's a love story buried in there. You might have to look to find it, but by gar it's there!

TQWhich character in The Acolyte was most difficult to write and why? Easiest to write and why? Did any of the characters surprise you?

Nick:  I'd say a lot of them were difficult, for different reasons. I think primarily, one thing a writer struggles with (at least I struggle with) is making a character's actions emotionally valid and believable in regards to the plot. Y'know, sometimes you want your character to do this or that, you want to get to this crucial scene, you want to write it so badly for reasons of plot or just, y'know, it'd be a hell of a lot of fun to write . . . but you don't make it believable that the character would actually do it. You know, why is he there? Why did she do this or that? If the reason is "because the plot needed them to," well, that's okay, every plot needs its characters to do certain things, open certain doors, but if you haven't invested in the character's motivations leading up to that scene, well, it's going to show. And sometimes there are scenes where several characters come into it with motivations, and they all need to act believably within that framework—otherwise a reader will wonder, Why the hell did character X or Y make that abrupt left turn? When you first start writing maybe you think nobody will notice. They do. So the emotional template you start with . . . you have to stick to it. Or if a character has a change of heart, you have to build that up and work at it. So much of what you incept at the beginning of a novel, where maybe you're still trying to get to know a character yourself . . . anyway, I've learned to be aware of these things in terms of character development.

TQWhat sorts of research did you do for The Acolyte?

Nick:  Eh, not so much as you might think/perhaps hope. I read the bible cover to cover. That was arduous. Otherwise, really, just other dystopian novels. Trying to get a feel for how other writers approached them.

TQWithout giving anything away, please share one or two of your favorite lines from The Acolyte.

Nick:  Hereinafter let it be known: The Church IS the State.

TQWhat's next?

Nick:  I've got a couple books coming out under my real name. Precious Cargo, nonfiction, about my year driving a school bus. And a short story collection, too. As Nick Cutter, the next book is called Little Heaven.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Acolyte
ChiZine Publications, May 19, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 296 pages

Interview with Nick Cutter - June 24, 2015
Jonah Murtag is an Acolyte on the New Bethlehem police force. His job: eradicate all heretical religious faiths, their practitioners, and artefacts. Murtag’s got problems—one of his partners is a zealot, and he’s in love with the other one. Trouble at work, trouble at home. Murtag realizes that you can rob a citizenry of almost anything, but you can’t take away its faith. When a string of bombings paralyzes the city, religious fanatics are initially suspected, but startling clues point to a far more ominous perpetrator. If Murtag doesn’t get things sorted out, the Divine Council will dispatch The Quints, aka: Heaven’s Own Bagmen. The clock is ticking towards doomsday for the Chosen of New Bethlehem. And Jonah Murtag’s got another problem. The biggest and most worrisome . . . Jonah isn’t a believer anymore.

About Nick / Craig

Interview with Nick Cutter - June 24, 2015
Photo by Kevin Kelly
Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for Craig Davidson who is the author of The Preserve (as Patrick Lestewka), Rust and Bone, The FighterSarah Court (ChiZine Publications, 2010), Cataract City (Doubleday, 2013), The Troop (as Nick Cutter; Gallery Books, 2014), and The Deep (as Nick Cutter; Gallery Books, 2015).

Website ~ Facebook
Twitter @thenickcutter ~ Blog

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop
Author:  Nick Cutter
Publisher:  Pocket Books, July 22, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781476717722 (print)
Review Copy:  Hardcover provided by the Publisher
Previous Edition:  Hardcover, Gallery Books, February 25, 2014

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter
Now in mass-market paperback! “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.” —Stephen King

Once a year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected…or each other. Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.

Brannigan's Review

The Troop is my second horror book for the month of October. I like reading books that creep me out to get me in the mood for Halloween and fall. While my previous book was family friendly, The Troop isn't for children. It's also not for the squeamish reader since it takes some dark turns. I honestly had to stop reading the book at times to take a break. Nick Cutter is a gifted writer of disturbing scenes and doesn't shy away from the use of gore, and I mean gag-inducing gore. Now, I would like to give a disclaimer for those of you out there who like watching The Saw or, heaven forbid, Mordum, to calm yourselves down before bed, you might not blink an eye at the events in this book. For the rest of us, it'll do its job of creeping you out.

As the title suggests, all of this alarming stuff is happening to 12- to 15-year-old boys on a boyscout adventure. For me, this is what made it almost unbearable to read. The things these boys go through are pretty grusome. As a parent, I can't imagine something like this happening, and sadly it's not that hard for this book to be reality. Cutter does a great job of developing some of the characters quickly to establish an emotional connection for the reader while some of the boys still feel a little cardboard. Cutter also openly borrows a writing technique from Carrie by injecting newspaper articles, blogs, court records and even psychological records to give the reader additional information about what's going on off the island and after the events. I enjoyed these a lot as they tease the reader into trying to guess how the book is going to end.

My only issues with the book, besides freaking me out, is how he used the boy scouts organization. There were merit badges that didn't exist and the scout law he used in the book isn't real. As an Eagle scout it always bothers me when writers bend the truth in regards to scouting. Now, I don't know maybe he had to change things up just a little bit for legal reasons or maybe the Canadian boy scout organization is slightly different from the Boy Scouts of America, and, to be honest, it's a pretty small infraction that most people wouldn't notice. It's more of a personal pet-peeve.

If The Troop doesn't creep you out, I would recommend you see a psychologist to get some help. It might not scare you, but it should be a little distressing. As a recommendation, I can't stress this enough due to the high amounts of gore, violence, adult language, and sexual imagery, this is an adults-only book. After reading this book, I'm happily returning to my regular fantasy and science fiction books for a bit.

Review: Little Heaven by Nick CutterInterview with Nick Cutter - June 24, 2015Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter

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