Clowns are creepy. I never really understood how anyone could think otherwise. There is just something about them that makes my skin crawl. That is why I was looking forward to the next novella in Samhain Publishing’s “Childhood Fears” series: “Nightmare in Greasepaint” by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn. Horror stories and clowns are just made for each other and I was hoping that this would be another scary story featuring these monsters from the middle ring.
When Will’s mother passes away, he knows that he has to return to his childhood home. He does not want to go back but he is forced to return. After all, his mother’s affairs need to be put in order and the evidence from that day long ago must be destroyed.
It turns out that the evil from that a long ago day has not left the house. Will’s son begins to have night terrors and the tension between Will and his wife is pushing their relationship to the breaking point. Will knows that she realizes he is hiding something but he just cannot reveal the secret that lies hidden in the basement. He cannot explain the power held within the necklace that became a type of family heirloom. And, most of all, he cannot explain why the clown that his son uses to keep the nightmares away scares the hell out of him. The answers all lie in Will’s past and the past is not going to be willingly left behind.
“Nightmare in Greasepaint” was not at all what I was expecting when I started the novella. I was expecting a fairly straightforward tale of clowns run amok and causing terror and devastation when, in reality, the clowns are more in the background of the story and the terror mainly comes from within Will’s mind and from his past. This is more of a tale of a man coming to grips with a traumatic experience from his past and an evil that he was forced to deal with when he was a child. Will is a mixture of the protagonist and the victim which causes an interesting dichotomy as the tale unfolds. This novella explores the roots of evil rather than evil unfolding in the present and I was surprised by the twists and turns that the story took.
Instead of a story of clown mayhem, “Nightmare in Greasepaint” finds its chills within the human mind. It is difficult to write about the book without giving away the events of the story and ruining the surprise but the darkness of the story lurks within Will’s mind. When his past comes into the present to threaten his life, he if forced to face his past for the first time instead of running from it as he has become accustomed. This is a very good novella with a couple twists that are sure to keep the reader guessing and cause nightmares in their own right. Soares and Gunn handle the story with a deft hand and keep it on track in spite of the story unraveling in a non-linear fashion. This is a strong story with an almost stream-of-consciousness feel to it and another strong addition to the “Childhood Fears” series by being a story that specifically deals with the horror of childhood.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Nightmare in Greasepaint” is scheduled to be released in May.