By Jerry Bradshaw
Sam is your just another ordinary, everyday university student trying to get by and fit in. One of his few vicarious escapes is his attraction to the local librarian. As his desire increases so does the body count within the sleepy hollow of Briar Hill. Is there a correlation to the macabre murders and sins of Briar Hills’ residents? Or will the grisly death toll be the only legacy remaining in Briar Hill?
Briar Hill is the inaugural edition of fiction I have delved on into at the hands of one Jerry Bradshaw. As mentioned in recent reviews, we live in unprecedented times. The need for entertainment, levity or escape may very well be more vital to survival than ever. As a collective audience we need to express our gratitude for the efforts of artists such as Jerry Bradshaw. If for no other reason, than to invite the readership with a whisper, a wave of the finger and forget all about the troubles of our lives and get lost in another reality.
Briar Hill is a concise novella style story, around one hundred sixteen pages. While not exactly a short story, our tales manages to plunge on deeper to character development, plot escalation and conflict. Perhaps what is most noteworthy is the page count does not threaten to grapple with a limited attention span and is just precise enough to satiate the appetite of all readers alike.
Contemporary characters with real time perceptions, personalities and attractions will broaden and appease a vast audience. Briar Hill is the type of tale that could easily be enjoyed in the here and now and lifted in future generations. A virtuoso in timeless classics, Bradshaw seems to have a firm grasp on who his audience is and keeps them insatiable for more.
The dialogue between characters is free flowing and natural, indicative of a sound, realistic gift for character development. Perhaps most noteworthy is what is not said and how the elusive speech enhances the merit of the plot escalation. In our own lives we are often rendered with the odious ‘should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’ complex. Bradshaw realizes communication is key in all forms to terror sculpting and executes as such with the finesse of a well seasoned word smith.
The innuendo, back and forth, will he, won’t he escapade between Sam and Andrew is worth the price of admission alone. As our sense of curiosity is heightened as is our investment in the tale. Ravenously the pages are ripped back to see what happens next. Rest assured it won’t be quite what the reading audience is anticipating.
I am especially fond of the varying setting between the library and the record store. One almost gets the impression that Bradshaw’s youth was invested as one-part bookworm and one-part hipster. Some of the obscure references such as Blue Oyster Cult and the much lessor known Lita Ford, had this reader sit up and take notice. In the movie biz these are often referred to as Easter Eggs. In the horror story telling racket and can only think of it as an homage to obscure for the sake of being obscure. After all isn’t that what introverts, readers and hipsters celebrate with each passing breath?
Briar Hill boasts some of the most creative kills I have borne witness to in some time. The sheer brutality is near poetic and reminiscent of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal. The passion for the very process is shades of Wes Craven’s Scream. Whether we collectively see the similarities or not, few will argue author Jerry Bradshaw’s love of the game.
The final scenes between Sam and Andrew will make even the most cynical of readers skin crawl. Few readers will want to retire for the evening directly after reading Briar Hill. One thing remains undisputed is Jerry Bradshaw has a most darkened future ahead of him in the realm of horror.
I am curious to delve on into the fray of future horror related creations. If you are looking for a vicarious escape, whether its simply just to forget your troubles for a brief time, the state of the world or realm the darkness with another at the helm, I highly recommend Briar Hill by Jerry Bradshaw.