So I really did enjoy "Fairy Lights." But I do wish that Lorn had spent more time developing the "big bad" TM Buffy in this short story as well as his helper Moss.
We do get some insight into Moss in his remembrances of a time before, but that actually disappointed me a bit because there was a big question mark on him not understanding certain words and what things meant at the start of the book that didn't make sense what we hear about his origins.
The book jumped around, but the flow ultimately worked I thought. I think the ending was the biggest gut punch for me. I liked what Lorn was trying to say about society right in that moment, but it felt like that should have been a separate story.
"Fairy Lights" begins with a married couple making love in a pond I would say next to a waterfall. It was hilarious to me (the imagery) because I am 5 years old sometimes. What I thought worked well was this is the beginning of every movie in the 80s pretty much. Happy couple making love is spied upon and killed. Weirdly enough, the description of a couple that is being taken away someplace for purposes unknown was more unsettling than the Friday the 13th movies to me.
The book than switches perspective to a divorced mother and her son (Tony) and his best friend Bobby who are about to take a camping trip. Unfortunately they seem to be heading toward the same destination that our couple just died.
DUN DUN DUN DUN
The big bad left me with so many questions. How did it get there? Why did it need someone like Moss? How the heck did no one else for years and years not realize people were going missing around that area? These were similar to the questions I had while reading "The Ruins". It always puzzles me when a malevolent thing is out there hunting humans and killing them, that no one notices it. I love "Midnight Meat Train" because that short story does show that authorities were readily aware that people were disappearing. But the ending smacks you in the face when you get there.
Moss as I said above, left me with more questions than answers. I can't imagine someone his age being able to do what he did without getting a boost from the big bad. Maybe the short story mentions that? I don't think so. I unfortunately am going on just memory from here since my Kindle is giving me the e-finger right now.
I really did enjoy Bobby the most. He is African American and seems for someone so young to be very wise to the world in which he lives. Sadly, his father's comments about not being too trusting around white people, even if you like them comes back to haunt both of them by the end of this book.
Tony could be set to default male in most horror movies. I didn't get a lot out of him until we follow his progress after coming across the big bad and what it has in store for him.
Tony's mother, Brenda, just like Bobby, felt like she should be in another short story. Only because I liked how Lorn showed her thought process while driving the group out to the woods. She suddenly realizes that her husband was most probably a racist and that even though she's not, she's prejudiced about certain things. I liked her banter with Tony and Bobby. She's definitely the cool mom.
We also get some other characters in this book who really should hold up signs saying (we are meat). But even with a few short sentences, Lorn makes them come alive. I loved the character of Lucy and cracked up when she goes through all of the things she has done in her life, but what she was about to do was truly the stupidest.
The writing was really good in this one. Like I said, a few times it did feel like two stories could have been separated out a bit. It just felt like I came for the horror and stayed for the social commentary on the messed upness (I know it's not a word) of the US right now. I would caution readers with sensitive stomachs or certain triggers to be prepared for some descriptive language. Nothing bad in my eyes, but I know some people don't like to read about certain things.
The flow was good in this book. It just got a bit iffy when we focused primarily on Tony and Bobby with some popups by Lucy here and there.
The setting of this place just made me think of deep dark woods where something is waiting to bite you.
The ending just made me sad. I had hoped for a small happy ending if at all possible. That would have turned the story on it's head for me and I think would have made this story more like Get Out to me. The thing that you know is about to happen doesn't which blows you away more. Thinking of this ending had me think of "The Ballad of Black Tom" which I thought neatly gets at the whole black people never live through horror movies/books and also pushing back at police brutality and corruption as well.