Steve's Reviews > The Conqueror Worms

The Conqueror Worms by Brian Keene
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's review
Feb 20, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, horror
Read in November, 2006

Satanists on surfboards. A mermaid. Giant worms and Cthulhu. And an End Time rain with two old mountain coots getting to play Beowulf. This is the good stuff. The Conqueror Worms is the second book I've read by Brian Keene (The Rising being the first), and I'm really impressed by this guy. The sheer gusto of his B-movie imagination leaves me hopeful for the future of Horror fiction. In one sense, I'm left thinking Keene is very Old School (see Giant Bug movies from the 50s), but not totally. Conqueror Worms is very much a post 9-11 effort. Keene gives voice to the apocalyptic anxieties, whether it be terrorism or environmental collapse, that currently fill the air, and labels them Behemoth and Leviathan. Bible labels, to be sure, but you can see how Keene is constructing his own mythology, which I fully expect to show up in later novels - much like King's Dark Tower effort. Keene may not have any intention of knitting it all together, but is there a need to? Just hints here and there (much like Lovecraft) of the Labyrinth are more than enough to get the reader's dread going overtime.

The Conqueror Worms is basically two stories in one. The first, told by Teddy Garnett, an 80-something WW II vet, who lies wounded in his rain-soaked house, waiting for help or death. Garnett has to be Keene's best character yet. He is fully realized, his voice consistently strong throughout the novel. His likes (chewing tobacco) and dislikes (bad neighbor Earl), his memories of his beloved wife, Rose, his loneliness and anxiousness over the fate of his children and grandchildren, ratchet things up effectively. Garnett's voice never seemed cliched to me, and you're just simply going to like this guy - and his friend Carl Seaton. A bit less realized is the other tale teller, Kevin, a refugee from underwater Baltimore. His story is a wild one however, and any comparison with Teddy is probably unfair, since Teddy has lived a longer, fuller life. Eventually, these stories converge on a mountain in West Virginia. Time is short, but the characters, despite the hopelessness of it all, refreshingly hold on to their humanity, because in the End maybe that's all you will have as a comfort while the rain beats down and the worms continue to tunnel underneath.
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Reading Progress

02/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Bettie☯ (new)

Bettie☯ I may have to search this out given your review.

message 2: by Henrik (new) - added it

Henrik Yeps, me too. Thanks for the review and bringing this book (& author) to my attention, Steve.

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