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Book Review: A God in the Shed (2017)

Something’s not right about the Canadian village of Saint-Ferdinand. It is the site of a series of killings that has been a part of the fabric of the town for almost two decades. While the locals aren’t complacent, they do continue to carry on with their day-to-day activities: “The murders and disappearances had become so much a part of the townspeople’s routine that stress and fear had also become a part of their everyday lives.” The personages who populate J-F. Dubeau’s novel A God in the Shed (2017) have substantial reasons to be at least a trifle odd. In a community that harbors many secrets, the motivations for behavior are complicated. Dubeau does a skillful job keeping the complexities intriguing. His intense narrative finely depicts a village whose sense of normalcy has been severely compromised.

Inspector Stephen Crowley arrests a local eccentric for the serial murders in which the bodies have been found hideously mutilated. Still, the inhabitants of Saint-Ferdinand cannot rest easy. There’s another human monster afoot, as well as a supernatural creature bent on destruction. Necromancy is practiced, and the ghost of a child haunts the territory. Like Twin Peaks, Stepford, and Peyton Place, this scenic little town has a lot going on beneath its picturesque surface.

Sub rosa activities are embedded in the town’s history. The sins of the fathers determine the horrors the next generation must face. These inherited terrors include a malevolent entity who can only be constrained by constant monitoring. Teenager Venus McKenzie unwittingly traps the creature after she sets up a video camera in her family’s garden shed. Venus and a few contemporaries have exchanges with the cunning entity, who offers them incentives to set it free. Meanwhile, a power struggle is erupting in the community that is a threat to all who dwell there.

J-F. Dubeau keeps the surprises coming in the 410 pages of the narrative. On the negative side, the author ends the story on what amounts to an ellipsis; there’s a sequel to follow and many questions won’t be answered until the follow-up book. This is rather frustrating. Frustration aside, fans of ghastly imagery will appreciate darkly descriptive passages such as: “Every inch of the cave had been decorated by a gruesome mural. The bas-relief of interwoven spirals and elegant curving patterns was sculpted from skulls, bone fragments, nearly fossilized viscera, and the leathery remnants of animal skin.”

A God in the Shed, published by Inkshares, is presently in development for television. Academy Award winning screenplay writer Akiva Goldman is reportedly involved in the production. It will be interesting to see if the project comes to fruition. In any case, the book is certainly worthy of attention.

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About Sheila M. Merritt

Sheila Merritt wrote book reviews for Mystery Scene Magazine. Currently she writes essays for Scream Magazine. For several years, she had contributed reviews, articles and conducted interviews for the newsletter. She was friends with a British ghost hunter who happened to be the author of a biography of Boris Karloff. She’s had a brief and embarrassing conversation with Christopher Lee in a department store, but also had a much more relaxing exchange with director-writer Frank Darabont at a horror convention. She became enamored of horror films and dark fiction as a child. Mother didn't approve of them. The rest, as they say, is history.

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