Some family legacies are best left buried.
The Pallasso Family endures tragedy and grief as Will learns of his mother’s passing. Returning to his childhood home he embarks upon the ordeal of setting his late guardian’s affairs. While his son Billy grapples with night terrors Will also faces the very real terror of what happened in his own boyhood demise. Some memories should not be revisited while others should remain buried forever, especially those smeared in grease paint.
Nightmare in Grease Paint was my inaugural exposure to either of these collaborative authors L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn. I’m increasingly impressed with the vast foray of talent unleashed under Samhain Publishing. Rest assured I will be thrilled to charter any other journey with either Soares or Gunn and found Nightmare instantly gripping and addictive until the final paragraphs.
The chapters are presented in third person point of view both from the past then the present. We learn much of Will’s tortured youth and quickly attain an understanding as to why he’s evolved into the man he is in the present. His inability to cope in the present seems to correlate with the manifestation of his son Billy’s unease. Billy suffers from night terrors and only feeds fuel to the dysfunction of their family unit.
As we learn more of the bond between childhood Will and his mother Lucy a certain sense of foreboding is initiated. The very common phobia coulrophobia or fear of clowns is spawned and we get up close and personal of the evil lurking within Will’s father Jacob. As mother and son co-conspire to integrate Jacob’s demise a very eerie sense of kinsman ship is accentuated making the average reader squirm with dread and fascination.
Will’s secret from his wife Lisa and son Billy is a formidable subtext. His efforts to conceal his haunted history accentuates the horror. His dirty deeds also beckons the question we’ve all faced, do we ever really know the one’s we love? The inner ponderings suspend the plausibility of the tale regardless of its supernatural threads.
Soares and Gunn are a cohesive, well-oiled machine. Each style eclipses into one another making it virtually impossible to decipher which voice belongs to whom. The authors make the collaboration process appear easy and its execution is virtually flawless. Taken from personal experience as I’ve dabbled in a collaboration experiment myself and realized it failed rather miserably, the two manage to pull of an exciting, comprehensive adventure into fear that will resonate with many long after the final pages.
The imagery surrounding the descriptions of the clown and his evil doings is horrifying preying upon the most obscure of phobias yet accentuating its very prominent place within the irrational psyche. Today’s generation is evolved in so many ways yet the core roots remain the same. Fear of the dark, heights, etc. are no longer the exclusive misgivings in pre-slumber nightmares. Children of today face a most different world, a product of their environment. It only makes perfect sense for the authors to hone in on these elements breathing a very real social issue to the surface.
The scenes written with Lucy and the way in which she copes with her villainous husband is easily the most disturbing of the book and will continue to unnerve many a reader for countless, sleepless nights to come.