Touch the Night by Max Booth III

MOTHER! MOTHER! RISE FROM THE GROUND!

Stranger Things and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre unite to form a blood-soaked matrimony of violence and corruption.

Something sinister’s hiding in the small town of Percy, Indiana, and twelve-year-old Joshua Washington and Alonzo Jones are about to find themselves up close and personal with it. After a harmless night of petty property damage leads to the unthinkable, the red and blue lights of a cop car are the last things these boys want to see. Especially a cop car driven by something not quite human.

Enter Mary Washington and Ottessa Jones. Their sons have been best friends for years, and now Josh and Alonzo have been abducted in the dead of night. Worst of all, the local sheriff refuses to believe they’re missing, leaving it up to Mary and Ottessa to take the law into their own hands before a family of ungodly lunatics can complete a ritual decades in the making.

Together they will embark on a surreal and violent journey into a land of corrupt law enforcement, small-town secrets, gravitational oddities, and ancient black magic.

The IndieMuse Review

Richard Martin’s Review

Max Booth III must be the busiest man in horror. Publisher, podcaster, screenwriter, editor and prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, with his time seemingly so in demand, it is all the more impressive that he is able to produce a novel so assured and accomplished a Touch the Night.

When twelve-year-olds Joshua and Alonzo decide to ditch a planned sleepover and instead spend the night walking the streets of Percy, Indiana, looking for something to pass the time, a seemingly innocuous trip to the local gas station takes an unexpected turn and the boys soon find themselves in trouble with the Law. At least, that’s how it seemed to them at first…

When the boys’ mothers notice them missing the next day, and the local police force seems either unwilling or unable to help, they begin to fear the worst. What follows is a descent into a surreal small-town nightmare of ancient families and dark rituals from which there may be no escape.

In the books’ description, Touch the Night is compared with both Stranger Things and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and while both comparisons are pretty on point, they don’t do justice to quite how odd this book gets at times. It’s almost like a David Lynch directed episode of Stranger Things, taking inspiration from an alternate world Texas Chainsaw Massacre that was directed by David Cronenberg.

It is a difficult book to review because it is not an easy book to describe while simultaneously doing it justice. There were times I actually laughed out loud reading it, and times I had to put it down because the tension was too much to bear. It switches between hilarious, heartbreaking, horrific, scary and surreal with ease, and the changes are never jarring and always timed to perfection. To say any more would be to delve into spoiler territory and this is one of those books where the less you know going in, the more you will enjoy it.

While the boys are probably two of my favorite characters of any book I have read this year (their comfortable friendship and easy back and forth is a joy to read) Touch the Night is packed full of great characters. The boys’ mothers, while polar opposites at the outset, soon find common ground in their search for them once they go missing, and any time spent with them is time well spent. There are also memorable villains in abundance and a lot of periphery characters that get fully fleshed-out personalities and backstories that just add an extra layer to an already engrossing book.

A coming-of-age tale unlike any you have ever read. Touch the Night is everything a horror fan could ever want in a book and a lot more. It’s no exaggeration to say that Max Booth III has written what is a strong contender for the best horror novel of 2020.

Mort Stone’s Review

There are some huge booby traps when it comes to coming-of-age-horror stories. How easy is it to make your characters do something beyond their age, or show some kind of wisdom or mental maturity which takes away the childhood ínnocence they are supposed to have? Personally, my biggest pet peeve of this genre is when the author plays it safe: How can anything truly bad happens to the innocent kids? We need a happy ending or it simply won’t sell, all the good guys need to survive—people can’t handle anything else!

Well, Max Booth III, take a bow, because you gave this mentality a huge, fat middle finger and told those people to suck it! This is a horror book, not some f*cking YA, piddle around the point and let’s not offend anyone, good golly gosh, no!

The kids in this story, Alonzo and Joshua, are twelve years old. They are not perfect little angels, nor are they truly bad seeds, but they are flawed children living in tough circumstances, doing the stupid shit most kids will do during their youth. Until things get out of hand one night and they cross a line which will have severe consequences.

The last thing they wanted to see was the flashing lights of a cop car. Well, that or a Celine Dion concert, really. And while they will be spared the latter—this author is not a sadist, you know—they will have to face the police…but are they really cops, or just some sickos pretending to be the law?

With both boys gone and the police unwilling to help them, their mothers have no choice but to take the law into their own hands and go about things vigilante-style. (STOP! You are thinking Thelma and Louise, right? You’re wrong, just put it out of your head and move on.)

You are about to walk into the small town of Percy, Indiana, and look into the deep, dark abyss of corruption, secrets and black magic…not to mention Vodka, hangovers and a smiley face penis—and nobody wants to look the one-eyed-monster right in the eye when there might be hints of eunuchs… Okay, I’ll admit it, that is a sentence I never thought I’d write…

Let me tell you a little story about myself. In my adult life, there have not been many occasions where a movie, tv show or book scared me. I don’t mean startle, I mean deep psychological fear. Many years ago, it was about one o’clock in the morning and I was watching a music video show on television, when I first saw “Come To Daddy” by Aphex Twin. That video freaked me out, for some psychological reason I still don’t understand today. While I’d been living alone for years, I had to get up and make sure all the doors were locked because I was feeling paranoid. It is not my proudest moment, I have to admit. Why bring it up? Well, when the twins appeared in this book, I flashed back to that memory. I was not scared, but I had this cold, heavy, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. I’m not sure if it was the gallon of ice cream I ate or not, but I dare you to watch that music video and then read this book…

While I can see how some people might be offended by this book, I think Max handled it really, really well. And while some might actually hate that ending—sir, I LOVED it—I was more than 90% into the story and I still didn’t know how it was going to end.

I can recommend this to almost any horror fan.

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.

2 reviews for Touch the Night by Max Booth III

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  1. Sonny Carvalho  

    I could not put this book down and ended up reading it in one sitting!

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  2. Collene Maltese  

    I could not put this book down and ended up reading it in one sitting!

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