I was attracted to Blister by Jeff Strand because the book’s Amazon page claims it is a mixture of horror suspense and horror comedy. The novel, published in 2016, is a purchase-for-free Amazon selection. The cover either will either attract or repel a reader; for those it attracts, there may be questions. I am not sure how something is classified “horror comedy” when the first few lines of the Amazon description are: “They call her Blister. She’s a hideously disfigured twenty-three-year-old woman, living in a shed next to her father’s house, hidden away from the world” (Amazon description page for Blister).
The horror part is the disfigurement of Rachel, also known by the nickname Blister, a name given by folks in the town of Lake Gladys who had decided to treat her as a freak. A disappointed boyfriend had slashed her face with a straight razor and cauterized the wounds with a blowtorch when she was a teenager. Now twenty-three years old, she was resigned to the fact that no amount of plastic surgery would ever restore the face she had previously. Rachel tried various masks to wear in the event she had to meet anyone other than her father. Most of the time, she remained isolated in a small cabin constructed and guarded by her father.
Jason Tray is a successful cartoonist. A prank Jason pulled in his neighborhood backfired, and his agent decided Jason should hide out for a short period in a cabin owned by the agent in the town of Lake Gladys. While having drinks in a local bar, Jason was invited to accompany two local teenagers to go to a cabin and see “something” unusual. Peering through a window, Jason saw “Blister” without her mask, reacted predictably, and ran away from his window peeping activity but not before hearing the disfigured person responding with sobs.
The next day, Jason felt horrible about the way he had acted and felt compelled to return to the cabin and personally apologize to the person he had seen, Rachel. The first person he met was Rachel’s father, Malcolm, a man very protective of his wronged daughter, who advised Jason to leave and never return. At this point, readers are past most of the horror and the cringe-worthy description of how unfortunates can be emotionally abused.
Jason and Rachel deliver most of the dialogue that makes up the humor component of the story. It is witty, enjoyable, sarcastic, and not overdone. I found it difficult to believe there could be so much humor in such a tragic story.
There is, of course, a mystery. Why did this happen to Rachel? What happened to the party or parties who hurt Rachel? Readers will presume that there is going to be extended communication between Jason and Rachel. How will that relationship work out, or will there be any relationship at all?
The story delivers multiple surprises, and a suspension of disbelief is required at a few points when reading about law enforcement responses, but for the most part, this is a page-turner entertaining read. I found only one disconnect about the difference between a grocery, or convenience store, and a drive-in theater, but I won’t clear it up for readers. The story is a worthwhile fun read, and no one can complain about the price. I gave this story only four Amazon stars because of the disconnect mentioned earlier, but I will read more by this author. I am a fan of humor even more than horror. Jeff Strand did an unusually good job combining the two with Blister.