As a writer, Dean H. Wild explores the darker elements of the human condition through his horror novels. His latest work, The Crymost, follows the community of a small town as their home is torn apart by a malicious supernatural presence that worms its way into their world.
The story bounces around between different members of the community of Knoll as the mysterious visitor infects their day-to-day. However, it primarily follows an ex-teacher called Mick Logan who is haunted by tragedies from the past as he makes it his mission to ward off the threat to his equilibrium.
The menace that descends upon the town of Knoll comes in the form of Judge Thekan, a sinister man whose humanity peels away as his grip on the community intensifies. At first, the way he manipulates people is familiar, combining subtle threats with seductive bribes, allowing him to secure a hold over some of the most vulnerable people in town. He snakes his way into their lives by exploiting their insecurities. As his power grows, his influence takes on a supernatural side that infects every element of life in Knoll.
As a villain, Thekan is satisfyingly creepy. He bridges the boundary between human and monster. As a reader, you get accustomed to the normality of him before his dark powers emerge.
The chapters of the book that follow him are extremely well written. You learn the truth about his character – his motivations, his secrets and the way he infiltrates people’s lives – without it ruining the mystery in the chapters that follow Mick and his friends as they work it all out for themselves.
Wild writes incredibly realistic characters. Their roles within the community are clearly defined and their relationships to each other are believable in a small town setting. There is a sense of the affection for people they have lived alongside for years, even when people aren’t exactly friends. This makes it difficult not to care about the characters as wedges are driven between them.
This realism when it comes to the way that characters are built makes for a profound sense of tension when the stakes get higher. This ramps up as the plot unfolds, noticeable from the start even as the threat is heavy in the air but undefined. Wild makes you really care about seeing the battle through to the end by Mick’s side, keeping his friends safe and his home intact.
Wild creates a believable and tranquil little town in The Crymost, with simple, ordinary problems. It is easy to immerse yourself in the day-to-day of Knoll, to adopt the locals and to fall easily into their routine. The tribulations of local politics snowball into more sinister attacks on Knoll and drag you along into it in a way that makes the darkness seep right out of the page.
Check out Vampire Squid’s full interview with Dean H. Wild.