The Hatching, Ezekiel Boone (Atria/Emily Bestler US, Random House Canada)

hatching

The first volume in Boone’s horror trilogy begins in the jungles of Peru, where a tour group encounters something they hadn’t expected – that no one on Earth would have expected: spiders, flesh-eaters that quickly swarm over the hapless tourists and reduce them to blood-soaked gore. Quickly the spiders are appearing all over the world, eating anything living that gets in their way, and here’s the even scarier thing: they’re reproducing at an incredible rate, threatening to overrun the entire planet.

Boone tells the terrifyingly creepy story by jumping back and forth between characters and locations: here, an FBI agent investigates an airplane crash and gets the shock of his life; here, an expert in spiders receives from Peru a parcel containing what appears to be an ancient spider egg sac…but the spiders inside are not dead. Here, the president of the United States faces a mind-bendingly difficult decision: how much of the country is she willing to sacrifice in order to keep the spiders at bay?

Boone is a terrific writer. The book works because its characters are flesh-and-blood people, not horror-story stereotypes. The premise is wildly implausible, of course, but so are the premises of most good horror: that’s what makes them horrific. It’s the idea that something so impossible, so frightening, could actually be real – that’s what scares us. Boone creates a vibrant, tactile world and vivid characters, and in an environment that real the spiders don’t feel like creatures of the imagination; they feel real enough that you’re almost sure there’s one creeping up your leg right now.

The story continues in volume 2, Skitter.

Copyright David Pitt

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