Reviews > Published on October 7th, 2016

Bookshots: "Swift to Chase" by Laird Barron

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Swift to Chase

Who wrote it?

Laird Barron, award-winning author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories and, my personal favorite out of everything he's written, Man with No Name.

Plot in a box:

This book will go down as one of the best horror story collections of the decade. This I promise you.

A collection of loosely connected cosmic nightmares frozen deep in Alaskan hell.

Invent a new title for this book:

Either Hearse Songs or Ass-Deep in Devil’s Club.

Read this if you like(d):

Brian Evenson. Paul Tremblay. Gemma Files. Season one of True Detective. A little bit of Fortitude, too.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Hitchhikers concealing sharp blades and even sharper secrets. Strong women who don’t take shit from anybody. A high school of weirdos, jocks, and Heathers more sinister than you could ever imagine.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Charlize Theron. Josh Brolin. Christian Slater. Winona Ryder.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard rumors that Alaska is...slightly cold. I currently live in Texas, and I’m pretty goddamn sick of the heat, so, you know, maybe? I won’t lie. There’s something appealing to me about living alone in a cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow and bears. I probably wouldn’t survive a month, though. I'm very fragile.

What was your favorite sentence?

Buckle up, there’s a few:

I threw a glass of whiskey in his face, as a lady does when her appearance is insulted by an oaf.

He drives like turtles screw so we’ve apparently got all the time in the world.

In this nightmare he is kissing me but his left eye is gone and I can see daylight shining all the way through his skull. He says hot into my mouth, This wound won’t close.

Maybe the parasite that fruits your corpse is the only true part of you that existed.

The Verdict:

When reading a Laird Barron story, you have to throw all expectations of the universe out the window. You have to crawl into his words as a naked infant hungry for knowledge of the world. You have to trust that he’ll guide you down the right roads, through the right dimensions.

Nobody knows the cold horrors of Alaska better than Barron.

In these stories, evil is very real. Not only is it always within reach, but it’s not afraid to grab you and fuck you up at any given moment. This is perhaps one of the most unique collections I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It managed to do the impossible and make me enjoy not just one, but multiple serial killer-related stories. These stories are on fire, no brakes, heading at full-speed to the edge of the universe. Laird Barron’s prose is not only fascinating, but often poetic as well.

Many of the stories in this collection feature the same characters, at different points in their lives. I wouldn’t call it a novel, not by any stretch, but I could definitely see it working as a killer TV series. Imagine an anthology horror show hosted by Laird Barron and tell me your pants aren’t suddenly sticky.

I’m not going to get into the plots of each story found in Swift to Chase. That’s for you to discover on your own. If someone told you what waited under the earth, would you keep digging?

Listen. This book will go down as one of the best horror story collections of the decade. This I promise you.

Get Swift to Chase at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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