DEPRAVED 4 by Bryan Smith

The world’s most dangerous woman is back. In DEPRAVED 4, Jessica Sloan awakes from a coma only to find herself facing the most dangerous adversaries to ever cross her path. A sinister organization hopes to recruit her as an assassin while a hulking monster in human form named Vic Manzetti goes on a brutal and audacious rampage. All the while, an old enemy lurks in the background, eager to explore the furthest reaches of sadism and depravity. All are set to collide in an explosion of carnage in the final chapter of Bryan Smith’s infamous saga.

The IndieMuse Review

Jessica Sloan’s Last Stand!

It is fair to assume that anybody reading this will have at least a passing familiarity with Bryan Smith’s Depraved series, given we are reviewing the fourth book in the series. The original is one of Smith’s best loved works and, over ten years later with the newly published ‘Depraved 4’ he is sadly wrapping up the story of extreme horrors best loved anti-heroes, Jessica Sloan.

The Depraved series has enjoyed an eclectic mix of settings so far, with the cannibalistic backwoods of the original through to the ultra-violent, all-female prison of the third in the series, Smith has kept the series fresh and exciting with each new entry, and changes things up again for Jessica in the fourth and final book.

When we re-join Jessica, she has awoken from a coma following the events of book three, and finds herself in the hands of a sinister organisation that hope to use her formidable skills for their own nefarious ends. No sooner has she began her recovery, then she finds herself embroiled in her most dangerous adventure yet, where she will cross paths with clones, serial killers, and some old friends from her past.

A title like Depraved sets a high expectation for mayhem and gore, and fans of the series won’t be disappointed on that count. While this fourth installment doesn’t have one memorable gross out scene to match, say, the barbeque scene in book 2, you will feel suitably dirty after reading this. We also get some new characters, including one of the most reprehensible that Smith has ever committed to paper. Vic Manzetti begins as something of a joke early on in proceedings, but goes on to steal the show, and it’s his scenes that really earn the book its title. Nobody writes grindhouse inspired pulp horror insanity like Bryan Smith and this book is certainly not one for the quiet horror crowd.

The book does have one major flaw, in that it woefully underuses Jessica. It is odd, looking back, to note how little she features in the story and how ineffectual her role ultimately is in how things unfold. She is given very little to do, and her time in the organization is overshadowed by the far more interesting side story of Vic. While everything ties up nicely at the end, I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t the high note you would like such an iconic character in extreme horror to go out on and I found her journey in this last chapter to be a little disappointing.

This may not be the strongest entry in the Depraved series, and it may be sad to see Jessica’s story come to an end, but you can be guaranteed a good time with anything Smith writes, and Depraved 4 is no exception to the rule. While it suffers as a comparison to the other books in such an excellent and consistent series, this is a solid and entertaining read in its own right.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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