The first time I picked up In Bleed Country, I had no idea what to expect. I have never really been ‘into’ horror novels – My first and last attempt at one was Clive Barker’s ‘The Hellbound Heart’ at the age of 8, and while that was an … interesting experience, the genre never grew on me. ( I wonder if I still have that book around, actually…) But none the less, after meeting Brian at Legendfire I decided I’d take a look at his work. I was originally going to get ‘Petty Like a God,’ but he recommended I read his latest novel ‘In Bleed Country.’
And I’m glad he did.
In Bleed Country is one of the more memorable books I read last year (and, Perhaps, ever) especially due to its villainous side. The villains are simply wonderful. Excuse me for a minute while I rant on this, but I don’t think I have ever encountered villains as fun and enjoyable to read about as the Armada Of Sensation. Not only are they a well written, complex bunch of characters who change as and grow as the story progresses, but they are a pure joy to read about. I wish more of the book was in their POV, and I found myself grinning throughout their scenes and hoping for more whenever the protagonists took the spotlight. Honestly, they are absolutely everything an antagonist should be.
That’s not to say the protagonists were lacking at all – Reality is quite the opposite. Brian has a talent for creating interesting and enjoyable characters, and in this regard he far surpasses much of that I read in print. I just have a soft-spot for villains, and good ones are hard to come by these days.
The novel concerns Jeff Palmer, a young man who becomes a part of Bleed Country after a car accident. We follow him as he delves into the mystery of Bleed Country and his power as an Agent of bleed country, all while fighting to defend it from the Armada Of Sensation and cast of other antagonists with their own personal goals, all crossing each other’s paths. One very interesting aspect of In Bleed Country is the fact Brian shows us what the other characters are up to, instead of sticking rigidly to the POV of a single protagonist. It allows him to follow multiple plot threads at once and, perhaps most deliciously, allows us to see what the antagonists are doing through their own eyes. It’s a good implementation of the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of writing, and pulled off fantastically.
The book is not entirely without its flaws, however. It was composed of two shorter works that have been merged together, and while for the most part this is done well and without any visible scars, but it is noticeable. Don’t get me wrong; In Bleed Country is a single novel, but the Second ‘half’ seems a little rushed compared to the first, and while it is still enjoyable in its own right, I would have liked to see the two parts more entwined. This is grasping at straws, really, and I can’t find any serious complaint with this book.
Overall I loved In Bleed Country – It drove me into the night with bloodshot eyes more than once, and I can still remember staying in the classroom after school because I didn’t want to shut off the computer to stop reading. (And subsequently, I can remember walking home in the rain. It seems reality got the last laugh.) If you are a horror fan (or not, remember I wasn’t) then give it a try. Even if you don’t fancy it, at least you can say you survived a trip to Bleed Country.
Since I read the book, Brian has released a new special edition through Dark Red Press that includes some extra illustrations by the man himself, and three short stories set around the novel’s universe. I don’t have that version, so I can’t pass comment on those. I really hope one of them is about the Armada Of Sensation.
You can find In Bleed Country at…
And of course, the Dark Red Press website.
Brian’s Personal blog can be found here.
Thanks for reading, be sure to tell me what you think if you purchase the book.
Are you a Horror fan? What are your experiences with the Horror genre? Let me know in the comments section!