Of Mushroom, RV’s, and Ancient Evil: A Review of Jeff Mariotte’s “The Slab”

What’s news?

I wanted to take a moment to thank Marie Loughlin for her review of my novel, The Imaginings.

To see Marie’s review at my Amazon page, click here.

Please visit Marie’s blog and check out her recent novel, Valknut: The Binding, which brings Norse mythology into a modern hobo subculture.  Intriqued?  For Marie’s blog, click here.

What does the future hold?

As a follow up to this week’s review of The Slab, next week, I will be posting my interview with the author, “Seven Questions with Author Jeff Mariotte.”

But without further ado…

From Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore:

In the grim days following 9/11/2001 three veterans of different wars, whose lives have been intersected by magic, find themselves thrown together in California’s cruel desert – while a group of serial killers ply their deadly trade, and an ancient evil grows beneath them.

Overall, The Slab appealed to me on multiple levels.

First of course, is the fact that I would consider this a supernatural thriller, something which is right/write up my alley (see what I did there?).  There are also elements of literary suspense in the story of the men gathered for their annual “dove hunt,” a plotline which has echoes from several similar stories (The Most Dangerous Game and Deathwatch come to mind, the latter which was also set in the desert), but Mariotte definitely makes it his own.

[However, similar to what I hope to do with my longer fiction, there is more than just brain candy genre storytelling (not that there’s anything wrong with that) in this book. There are bigger questions addressed in this novel, questions revolving around the setting.  But more on that shortly.]

Also, Mariotte introduces the reader to a fair amount of seemingly unrelated characters (or at best peripherally related) early on, dedicating separate sections to their point of view, and successfully weaving them together without losing the reader.  This is something that has always impressed me with storytelling in general, and I was pleased to see Mariotte pull it off.

Speaking of this interesting cast of characters, something else that appealed to me is the idea of a community living off the grid in The Middle of Nowhere, California (more specifically, not far from the Salton Sea) in something of a self-chosen shanty town of campers and RV’s in various states of splendor or sorrow (seemingly more of the latter).  As someone who bought a slide-in camper for my truck many moons ago and sold off everything that wouldn’t fit inside, I can understand the draw to this simpler, less consumer driven lifestyle.

But these aren’t just a bunch of hippies.  What kind of horror novel would that be?  And I believe most horror writers have a good bit of paranoia and suspicion of anyone keeping tabs on us, so the desire of many of the The Slab residents to exist “off the grid,” self-reliant (and as untraceable by any government agencies as possible) also has a certain allure.

There is also the fact that the novel takes place during the tense time in our country following 9/11/2001 (ergo, the reason I chose this week’s post to follow last week’s guest excerpt from Dr. Kyle Bishop, “al-Qaeda and Zombies: Is there a connection?”).  And on this one, let me say that Jeff Mariotte has some cojones.  He makes some statements in this book which was published just two short years after said event which still would not be very popular today.  And while he does toe the line and do his best at presenting the more mainstream opinions of the time as fairly as possible, I don’t believe you have to know Jeff’s politics to figure out which way he leans.

However, I was admittedly already familiar with some of Jeff’s ideologies before picking up The Slab, so perhaps I was reading into it a little more than I should have.  Thoughts?  I would love to know if anyone else picked up on this.

If I’m not imagining these undertones, and if they came through loud and clear to other readers, I think this would be the only detriment of the book.  It wasn’t for me, as I agree with many of the statements made by both the sheriff’s office lieutenant, Ken Butler, and activist, Penny (two of the three aforementioned veterans), but I could see how some people might get their hackles up.

Otherwise, with the exception of a couple of nitpicky plot points that I struggled a little with (but which didn’t detract significantly from my enjoyment and which I won’t go into here unless requested in the comments section), I found The Slab to be an entertaining, thought-provoking and gripping read.

What do I want from you?

Have you read The Slab?  What did you think?

In addition to writing, Jeff is a co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.  While I wish I could say that I always support independent bookstores, sometimes my salary doesn’t abide. I did purchase The Slab paperback from MGB, but as Jeff told me in advance, it was one of the few places still selling it at full retail price.  The Slab is unfortunately no longer available there, but I hope you would check out Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.

UPDATE 01/19- Mysterious Galaxy will be carrying signed trade paperback copies of The Slab.  You just need to put in an order.

Otherwise, The Slab can be found in paper or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

And don’t forget to check back next week for “Seven Questions with Author Jeff Mariotte.”

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9 thoughts on “Of Mushroom, RV’s, and Ancient Evil: A Review of Jeff Mariotte’s “The Slab”

  1. I visited your review, best of luck and I hope you get many more wonderful reviews!

    1. Much thanks, Catalina. I’m kind of hoping the same thing. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a good weekend.

  2. p.s.- You’ll just have to read the book to find out about the aforementioned mushrooms.

  3. And I do love mushrooms….

    1. Probably not these mushrooms. They’re eeee-villlll.

  4. This sounds like an interesting read, not only from the horror aspects, but from the political side as well. Interweaving a large amount of character development is always a tough write. Perhaps dealing with unpopular political beliefs: even more so.

    Sometimes an author needs big balls. I’m a big boy and can handle listening to every point of view; in fact, I love to do so.


    1. It was indeed an interesting read. I originally picked it up for the horror aspect of course, but I was pleased when I found something else for consideration. I am also open to other opinions, especially when they aren’t so headstrong as to not even consider the other side themselves (and as I mentioned, Mariotte pays lip service to both sides). And yes, without drawing it out too long, he does a fine job of character. I’ll admit I had a hard time distinguishing some of the group of “hunters,” but the main characters were pretty true.

      Thanks for stopping by. Just getting ready to head over to your blog and see what’s cooking in your fire.

      1. My fire is sizzling again!

        I get so tired of one way thinking that I want to puke anymore. We’re supposed to be free to think and reason and not have tripe shoved down our throats or up our a***s.

        Controversy can be cool!


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