2018, book-wise, has been an interesting year for me. I’ve ‘discovered’ lots of new authors and novels I hadn’t heard of before. As far as horror fiction went, in the past my reading largely consisted of the old stuff, by Lovecraft, Poe, Bierce, Bloch, Blackwood, and other like authors. My knowledge of contemporary authors and stories was quite meager: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, Larry Correia, Jonathan Maberry, and that was about it. Thanks to some podcasts I began listening to in the last few months, I learned about several authors and novels that sounded interesting and I checked them out. The website, Bookbub, also played a large role in expanding my explorations into contemporary horror fiction.
One find was Mayan Blue, by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lazon, known in the horror community as the Sisters of Slaughter (SOS). Upon reading the description of the novel on Amazon, I decided to buy the Kindle edition. I’m glad I made the purchase.
The novel begins with a depiction of a sacrificial ceremony hundreds of years in the past, then shifts to the present day, where an archaeology professor is about to discover his ultimate find: proof that the Mayan civilization had extended all the way north into what is now the state of Georgia. The professor removes an elaborately carved stone disc from a doorway inside a cavern and unwittingly frees an ancient evil. The story then proceeds on to the efforts of a group of students to find the professor. There are five of them, one of whom is an assistant to the professor and the leader of the small group.
Wes, the assistant, and a young woman named Alissa who secretly has a crust on Wes, are the two main characters of the story. The other three member of the group are Tyler, Dennis, and another young woman named Kelly.
SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD
The SOS employ some of the archetypes found frequently in horror movies and novels, that of the promiscuous woman and the men who seem to have no thought other than sleeping with her. Kelly and the two guys, Tyler and Dennis, perform those roles, and it should come as no surprise to the reader that they are marked for death. Sex and lust are often rewarded with death in horror fiction. The professor also pays the price for his hubris fairly quickly in the novel. We’ve seen these characters many times before on the screen and on the page.
The SOS’s story does not feel stale or overworked, however. On the contrary, the feeling I got from reading the book was of tale-spinners who clearly love the genre they write in and who had a lot of fun using those archetypes. They do manage to give their characters just enough depth that you feel sorry for them as they meet their awful fates.
It doesn’t take long before Wes and Alissa are the only survivors of their little group. From there, the story plunges into a world of sheer terror, as they find themselves in Xibalba, land of the dead. I found myself increasingly engrossed in the tale and it didn’t take long before I was almost not willing to stop and eat or take care of any other needs so I could continue onward through the novel.
Though there is some predictability early on in the novel, as I mentioned above, later on the story takes twists and turns unforeseen by the reader as Wes and Alissa make their way through the dark and deadly underworld in which they find themselves trapped. Word of warning, the tale is not for the squeamish. The SOS do not shrink from throwing blood and gore and a multitude of disgustingly putrid creatures at the reader. Several of the scenes had me squirming with horror and disgust as I read them. One particularly intense part, involving a maggot, almost did me in. If it had been a movie I was watching instead of a print tale, I probably would have closed my eyes till the scene was over. I’m not in possession of the strongest stomach.
One element of the book I appreciated was how it delved into Central American mythology. I’ve never really read much of the mythology or folklore of the Mayan culture, or really of any cultures south of the border, and after reading Mayan Blue, my appetite has been whetted for more.
All in all, I enjoyed the novel and I give the story both thumbs up. With Mayan Blue, the SOS have woven a tale of terror that will go into my list of favorite horror novels, and I look forward to reading more from them. If you enjoy horror fiction and can stand some blood and gore, you can’t go wrong with this story. Give it a read today.