Slow Burn on Riverside

Slow Burn on Riverside by Chad Lutzke

“Taking my mind for granted became my biggest regret.” When 18-year-old Jex moves into a new apartment, his roommate’s descent into drugs paves the way for mental illness, while Jex deals with their sexually assertive landlady. But when her teenage son shows up, things take a very dark turn.

The IndieMuse Review

Richard Martin’s Review

Serving as a prequel of sorts to his 2019 coming of age novella, The Same Deep Water As You, Chad Lutzke’s latest revisits the world of love, drugs and skateboards in this nostalgic ’90s set dark drama.

Jex is living with two of his best friends but, when one moves away unexpectedly, he is forced to look for somewhere else to stay. Young, broke and unambitious, an unexpected stroke of luck finds Jex sharing an apartment in the picturesque Riverside, a place normally well outside of his means.

A string of roommates and some poor choices begin to lead Jex down a dangerous path. Passing the time with drinking, drugs and a string of unfulfilling sexual encounters, his mental health begins to deteriorate and when he meets Chris, his life takes a dark turn that he may no longer have the strength to turn away from.

Having grown up in the mid-90s/early 2000s this book really ticked a lot of nostalgia boxes for me. Jex’s lifestyle very much captured that period of time and I found a lot of the characters to be very relatable. Until I didn’t. After all, this is a Chad Lutzke book and what you think he has in store for you is not typically what you are going to get.

Lutzke has such an unrivalled knack for going places you don’t expect, and while I found a lot of things about Slow Burn on Riverside familiar, I found nothing about it to be predictable. Slow Burn lives up to its name and gradually lifts the veil on Jex’s seemingly laidback lifestyle, revealing a dark undertone of insecurity, vulnerability and self-destruction. When the more shocking events come about, it is out of the blue and without warning, described in a disturbingly passive matter-of-fact manner that makes it all the more jarring and traumatic.

Without spoiling anything, I can also say it is one of those books that is a completely different story once you re-read it. The events of the novella play out in such a way that, once you know what happens, the things that precede it are shown in a very different light and it makes for a very different tale when you go in knowing the outcome. It is rare that a book can pull off such a feat, but Lutzke manages it seemingly effortlessly and it was one of the very few times I’ve wanted to start again from page one as soon as I finished and experience the story in a whole new way.

Lutzke is fast becoming the go-to author for horror with a purpose. Slow Burn on Riverside is just another in an increasingly long line of examples of stories that get under your skin and stay with you, difficult to read and impossible to forget.

Mort Stone’s Review

Chad Lutzke is a great storyteller. He deserves all the praise he gets.

If you haven’t read him before, I will try to explain why you should remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Lutzke’s words has a direct link to your E-spot.

No, the E is for Emotions, don’t perv out on me, man. With very few words, he pulls you in and makes you care. One moment you think he won’t be able to get you emotionally invested in a character and the next he’s plucking your heart strings like he’s part of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. (Sorry, I had to Google that because I don’t know any famous ukulele players and, odds are, most of you won’t either.)

Slow Burn On the Riverside is a prequel to a novella which came out in 2019, called The Same Deep Water As You. With the introduction, the author assures you that this one works as a standalone. Since I haven’t read the latter, I can vouch for it—this is a story in and off itself.

We meet Jex, an eighteen-year-old slouch with no job and no real motivation to get his life going. He lives with roommates because he can’t afford rent on his own, plays in a band and is into heavy metal.

The story starts as they get evicted from one place and find a much better apartment in a better neighborhood than they can afford. Of course, they are at a time in their lives where they should discover themselves, and as the drugs and alcohol flows, roommates will come and go.

Soon Jex finds himself in a situation he can’t control, especially when his landlady starts using him as a boy toy. When Jex decides to try and sort out his life, the landlady’s son turns up and things turn dark.

The author does not rely on blood and gore, but rather the internal horror people experience in their everyday lives. He is the thinking man’s horror writer—and sometimes I wish we had more of those.

Lutzke has an incredible ability to capture little wisdoms which describes the human psyche so well, especially when it is something you can relate to or have experienced yourself. In one of the lines of this book he says something which comes down to: You’ll never feel as alone as when you have good news and nobody to share it with.

I’ve been there. It is absolutely true.

Finally, I always want a twist that will knock me on my ass. Well, look at me sitting on that floor.

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.

MORT STONE

Mort Stone lives in untamed Africa, where he rides his lion to work every morning to slave away as a scientist who learned how to fake competency.

Reading is his passion…well, the one he can admit to, anyway. As an aggressive pacifist, he chooses to fight vicariously through stories which can bring him no physical harm.

While he is almost confidant that his IQ is in the top 50%, his wife regularly reminds him of all the stupid things he does. He will neither admit nor deny the accusations of sarcasm, but he can act like he cares. Most of the time.

As an avid reader of horror and thrillers, and somewhat of a movie buff in those genres, he still blames his insomnia on Global Warming. Because he can.

He would also like to apologize in advance for any swear words which might slip through…he will blame that on the insomnia.

Curation Results: Slow Burn On Riverside

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