“The sinkhole opened up and swallowed Bobby Page’s mother whole.” That is the first line of Sinkhole, a horror novella by Grant Palmquist. After reading a first line like that, I am going to continue. Also, there is this sense of obligation when an author sends me a book that I had won in a contest. I promised I would write a review. With this novella, it is an easy promise to keep. My interest remained high until almost the end. I could have done without the last two or three pages but for readers who need to have a conclusion; they will be happy.
Bobby’s mother is gone. She fell into a (you guessed it) sinkhole. But she wasn’t the only one. And the ones who fell into a sinkhole to presumed death might have been the lucky ones. At least they didn’t get pursued and eaten by ugly green flying dinosaur-like creatures. As the story opens, the reader gets the impression only Bobby survived. Bobby hopes not because he remembers his brother Ralphie (or Ralph) had gone fishing earlier. Bobby’s priority is to find Ralphie, then food, water, escape from where they are, and escape to a more familiar earthly environment. This place does not look like Earth anymore.
Bobby does find Ralphie and the two begin their journey from their home to somewhere. They have no idea where they are going. In order to keep going, they have to creatively destroy monsters. While on their journey, they meet Cindy. Bobby and Cindy are about the same age, Ralphie is two years younger. There seem to be no adults who have survived. Bobby, the oldest and male, feels he has a mission to protect the other two; he is a decision maker.
This novella has two strong points. I believe most readers will be able to identify and care for the three young people who are out to save themselves, not the world, just themselves. The interactions they go through in attempts to even the odds with the monsters is entertaining. They don’t have guns, explosives, or even proper knives. I don’t count stalactites as knives. There is lots of violence and truly gruesome scenes as body parts are separated. One example that made me cringe: “A couple of her fingernails peeled back like lids from a can,” (loc 977). It may not sound like much in the grand scheme of gruesome but it made me squirm. And here is all the sex you are going to find in the novella, I paraphrase Bobby when he says “I haven’t even kissed a girl yet.” That’s it. That’s all the sex.
So if you can get past the occasional eyeball popping out, read this. I like all Grant Palmquist’s stuff and will read more.