Monday, March 20, 2023

Captain Clive's Dreamworld

To date, Jon Bassoff has authored nine novels of dark crime-fiction and nightmarish horror. I read his debut novel, Corrosion, originally published in 2013, and really enjoyed it. The author has popped up on several “best of the year” lists over the last decade, including his novel Captain Clive's Dreamworld. It was published in 2020 by Eraserhead Press and received an audio book treatment by Blackstone Publishing. The book gained high praise on Amazon's reviews, which caught my eye while shopping for the next horror title to read. 

Deputy Sam Hardy works in a low-life, scum-ridden town plagued by violence and poverty. When a dead prostitute is found with her throat cut, Sam becomes a suspect in her murder. In an odd chain of events, Sam is instructed to move out of town to a place called Angels and Hope. The Sheriff sets Sam up to be the lone lawman of this sleepy desert town. Angels and Hope's claim to fame is a giant amusement park built by a zany entrepreneur named Captain Clive. But, the town is wonky and made up of two-faced citizens that seem to be hiding secrets. These characters evolve from the warm welcoming committee to malevolent tormentors over the course of the book.

Captain Clive's Dreamworld is a weird book, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's presented in a dreamlike way that ultimately conveys the book's title. At times it's like the quirky Twilight Zone episode “Stopover in a Quiet Town”, with the protagonist discovering that his small town is just a reproduction. Other times, Bassoff's writing is dark erotica, complete with disturbingly graphic sex scenes that mostly involve rape or incest. In that regard, it isn't a far cry from the likes of Jack Ketchum or Bryan Smith, two authors I mostly stay away from. Perhaps the best comparison is that of Bentley Little – a little of this and a little of that to make an outlandish horror story memorable. 

Bassoff is a terrific writer that can get the most out of his characters through heartache, emotional angst, homicidal thoughts, and guilt. This gauntlet of emotions lies before the reader to enjoy or combat, which makes the reading  a rip-roar, gut-wrenching event. The reader feels something – good, bad, squeamish - which is what every author desires. There was also a great story here worth telling. It's a cyclical narrative with a plot development that offered some horrifying surprises. 

If  perverted horror is really your thing, then you'll love Captain Clive's Dreamworld. Honestly, I was just lukewarm on some of the provocative stuff, but the story as a whole was good enough for me to...thrust onward I suppose. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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