Thursday, May 23, 2013

"The Nest" by Dominic Bailey

Title: "The Nest" 
Author/Illustrator: Dominic Bailey
Genre: Horror/Monster
Length: Short story
Naja's decency rating: R (violence)
Setting: Contemporary

The Nest is a unique short story with many interesting quirks that couldn't be found in a traditionally-published book. I was attracted by the organic drawing on the cover. Its simple, confident strokes were something I could hear my old charcoal instructor appreciating.

When you start the book, the sardonic tone is sure to give you a couple sarcastic smirks along the lines of Psycho, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, twisted fairy tales, or a Simpson's Halloween. It's a self-aware, soft-core Poe-horror with a lot of pop culture references. Everything in the story revolves around phobias- one more than any other: the fear of rats.

The tone is what really makes this book fun; it's sharp and pithy. The voice is clear. My favorite line is, "I have a pretty good idea of what a rat flying at my face looks like," because of how often he's imagined it, or "But there, on the book is a small oval dropping," when he's trying to convince himself there's nothing to be afraid of. The book starts with really fun details like that, but the ending was a little more ambiguous. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it made me feel like I'd started something I couldn't finish.

I have no problems with rats, and that makes the main character's hysteria even more fun for me. The first 38% of the book is from the phobic man's perspective, and the next 38%-71% is the rat's perspective. It took me a little doing to get invested in the villains' perspectives. I thought of the Rat King from Teenage Mutuant Ninja Turtles- someone fallen and divine who was "interpreting the thoughts" of his army of rat-minions. There are a few gross-out moments at this point, but nothing terribly shocking- just creepy enough to keep things interesting.

We switch perspectives again at the end, and then the book totally and completely bows down to the Poe poem influence.

I thought this little ninety-nine-center had a good dose of literary merit! It's entertaining, there's excellent description, insightful detail, humor, and it's a short, fast ride. I was able to finish in about a half hour while procrastinating on homework. If you're looking for a quick escape, check out The Nest!

This review was for the version uploaded on October 27, 2012.