PHBC: THE CEMETERY BY DE ATHKINS
Posted by James Dawson on September 13, 2013
A really big group of friends have a Halloween fancy dress party on Cemetery Point. Before the night is done one of the gang has been brutally murdered and the rest of the friends are in terrible danger.
So this one’s nuts
I feel I should tread carefully here. As an author I don’t think it’s may place to rip The Cemetery to shreds a la ‘The Ripper’ of the story BUT The Cemetery is 100% bonkers. We have to stress that right at the outset. If however, DE Athkins (Deathkins, geddit – it’s a pen name for one Nola Thacker) happens to read this, I’ll pre-empt the rest of the review by saying The Bride is one of my favourite Point Horrors. That ought to soften the blow a little.
Cup Half Full
On the plus side, The Cemetery isn’t like any other entry in the Point Horror cannon. Athkins is clearly a horror fan; referencing A Nightmare on Elm Street and Poltergeist in the text. Point Horror, as a series, needed more quirky episodes like The Cemetery to break up the monotany of teenage girls cowering from landlines and boyfriends in masks. The history of Cemetery Point is foreboding, with Dracula-like tales of whaling ships arriving full of dismmembered corpses.
Yeah, it’s fucking nuts. For a start it’s incredibly hard to follow and this is down to Writing Sin 101 – ‘headhopping’. The narrative switches focus between third person characters MID-PARAGRAPH. Now I grant you I don’t have a qualification beyond being an author but I’m pretty sure that’s ill-advised. What’s more, the characters are all so similar I actually had to write an aide-memoire to keep track.
It looked something like this:
Char – main girl/ginger
Cyndi – bitch
Lara – dumb
Georgie – bad girl?
Jane – posh
Dade – bad boy?
Rick – clown?
Dorian – Cyndi’s brother
Wills – ???
Jones – love interest
Yes. ELEVEN main characters. It’s no wonder I had to make notes. What’s more, beyond their fancy dress costumes, each is given precious little physical description. As far as I know all eleven are white. The boys are pretty much interchangeable throughout.
The writing is pretty iffy too. Early on a character ‘beckons sepulchrally’ for instance. I mean, really. Jones ponders, ‘Maybe being dead was what was real. Maybe that was the only reality.’ Deep, Jones, real deep.
‘But Georgie-girl, my favourite brunette, what’s the point?’
Georgie is clearly a Cumberbitch: ‘Oh Sherlock you really turn me on.’
‘You don’t mind having a minor in your car doing other things.’
Rick says ‘yo’ a lot. He’s down with the kidz.
Body Count: 3! Yep, 3 actually dead teenagers. In Point Horror terms, I doubt any other book can match this.
It’s hardly worth describing the love situation here because it’s so hard to keep track of who’s who. We spend so little time with Char it’s hard to define or explain her. She comes from a nice family, has a vague sense of right and wrong but that’s about it. She fancies Jones who is kind of brooding in a Diet Cullen sort of way. How Jones knows so much about the supernatural history of Cemetery Point is never explained and he consistantly tells Char snippets, suggesting he could have probably solved the whole thing for them on page 5. Jones gets emo Jason as his Heartthrob Hunk.
Far more fun a pairing is Little Rich Girl Jane and Bad Boy Dade. OUT OF NOWHERE Jane gets in Dade’s car and demands he deflower her then and there. It’s always the quiet ones. I imagine, after the novel’s conclusion, Jane married a nice city lawyer but likes to engage in swinging parties, dogging and the occasion trip to Torture Garden.
Did the best friend do it?
No! It was a shapeshifting vampire and/or ghost who sometimes claims to be Jack The Ripper, silly.
Is it scary?
It’s too shoddy to be effectively chilling, but I guess there’s potential for the faint of heart. After all there are graveyards, nightmares, legends (probably the scariest element) and a supernatural serial killer.
Is it good?
No. It’s impossible to enjoy because it’s so all over the place. That said, there is good in there. If we pretend The Cemetery was a first draft…Foy, Will and Rick could have been amalgamated, as could Lara and Jane, Char’s role could have been beefed up, we could have had more of the legend and the ghost and finally a more sensible ending. Then it could have been one of the best Point Horrors in the range. But sadly this is not a first draft.
2. No seriously, WTF?
IN TWO MONTHS TIME ON THE 13TH NOVEMBER WE SHALL BE DISCUSSING THE FORBIDDEN GAME TRILOGY BY VAMPIRE DIARIES CREATOR LJ SMITH. That’s why you have two months. The trilogy was republished by Simon Pulse, so should be EASY to get hold of.