FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I was so not prepared for Always Yell Fire, a horror novella by Matthew Danza and co-author Adam Horeth, which plunged me without any degree of clemency into the scariest fictional world yet. The ash people… I shudder just thinking of them. And I don’t think I’ll ever view firemen the same ever again. Three different sins. Three different people. All guilty of something that none of them can remember. Their punishment a cruel joke.
Alex, Joel, and Lily have found themselves tourists of a small town that is surrounded by a forest fire and covered in ash, their first horrific experience being attacked by little gray baby-like creatures. Something happened in this town that has something to do with four firemen and a little girl named Daniella. Guilty of sins that they can’t remember, Alex, Joel, and Lilly – the latter having a missing daughter that she needs to find – discover clues as to what happened in this nightmare town which is some sort of hell, or purgatory, and Daniella, whose voice often comes out of nowhere, also gives them clues. What hidden truth will these clues lead to and can they survive the madness of this town long enough to find out?
Daniella is a sweet little nine-year-old girl living in a large apartment complex with her hardworking, single mother. One day, her mother informs her that she’ll be working late and asks her to pick up some milk. Upon her return, it is getting dark as she makes her way home and, though her mother had warned her against it, she decides to take a shortcut by going down a dark alley behind her house. She gets snatched by shadows while continuously yelling and screaming fire.
Though Daniella is the one that starts things off, it is through the first person point of views of Alex, Joel, and Lily that the story unfolds. We meet Alex first, a young man revealed to have traits of cowardice, in a vehicle that has smashed against a tree. A Californian drivers license is what tells him more or less who he is. Joel and Lily are seen talking next and they soon meet up with Alex. Joel, the only one of the three that wields a firearm, believes that he might’ve been a medic in the Army. During the course of their torture, Joel seems to develop feelings for Lily, but the town and everything that happens in it might just be a little too messed up for romance.
Through Lily’s point of view, we learn that the “lifeless” town’s “roads looked like an ocean of gray sand with a few parked cars that looked like ash-covered rocks poking out of the sand.” It is also revealed that ash and shoot covers similar looking buildings, making the town appear featureless with a sense of hopelessness floating around.
Anyone who loves reading about gore and bloodiness, protagonists going through dark rooms alone with nothing but a torch, legs turning to jelly while being chased, and the sounds intestines make while someone digs through them, will find this book a scrumptious treat. And it doesn’t even take long for readers to get there. The three protagonists meet each other quickly and before you know it, creepy little blob thingamabobs that look like babies start hacking away at them. Man, I wished I had a bin handy to empty my stomach in. Just kidding, but that sudden blob scene did make the thought cross my mind.
As readers progress, clues are given about the four firemen, the last remaining firemen of a town drowning in drug use and violent crimes, and the little girl Daniella, all leading towards a terrifying revelation about what happened to her. Among the clues, torture devices for witches are also discovered and Lily believes that they were used in a witch hunt for this very town, a town full of guilty people, which begs the question: why are the three of them in this town and what is it that they are guilty of? A mystery for readers to contemplate as the nightmare continues.
The three protagonists experience a lot of agony that is realistic, yet the odd thing is that they are sometimes hurt in such ways that realistically, they should die, but they do not. They are obviously in some nightmare like world in which you could feel the pain of a blade going right through your stomach and still find yourself alive and kicking hours later. I hated to actually visualize what these guys looked like halfway in the book because of everything that’s happened to them already; readers who have solid stomachs, visualize your heart out by all means.
Joel looses his lower lip at one point thanks to a woman who is also one of the ash people named Evelyn. When Alex pulls him back into the real world as far as the town goes, Joel doesn’t say or do anything about his missing lower lip, leaving readers to either assume that his mouth is still fine or that his lower lip is indeed missing. Nothing in the following pages point to the second possibility. Miranda, a lass wielding a nine inch long syringe, is somehow able to snicker three words under water which Alex can hear. It would have made more sense to me if Alex had heard Miranda’s word inside his head via some form of telepathy.
Oh boy, I think I will have trouble sleeping for a while. This book is just too freaky. If you’re looking for new names to enter your list of top horror authors, Matthew Danza and co-author Adam Horeth will certainly win your heart that is bound to be beating fast while reading this book. Nightmares end, no matter how terrible, but to read this book is to sit in first class riding through the most horrible nightmare ever with seemingly no end in sight. Excellent horror. A little scare for those people who think they are can actually outrun their past.
Date Published: October 2, 2017
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