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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  54 reviews
When reporter Cora Mayburn is assigned to cover a story about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia, she is dismayed, for the world of cruel fundamentalist stricture, repression, glossolalia, and abuse is something she has long since put behind her in favor of a more tolerant urban existence. But she accepts the assignment, dredging up long-buried memories as she seeks ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published April 30th 2017 by Word Horde
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  146 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed Kristi DeMeester's short stories immensely. With her first novel "Beneath" there is evidence of her authorial capability allocated throughout the story. The novel is highly sexually charged throughout it's telling, with the lines blurred between eroticism and the perversion.

The novel's main characters, a young female no nonsense reporter, a priest who wavers between impure thoughts and weakness, a mother and daughter who's highly religious upbringing and marred upbringing comprise
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, review-copy
4.5 Stars Video Review:
Beneath is a strong debut horror novel filled with creepy creatures and nasty people. Clearly, Demeester has a dark and twisted imagination. The prose in this novel is absolutely fantastic, with tightly written descriptions and disturbing imagery. This novel is unapologetic in its attempts to make readers uncomfortable.

Given the synopsis, readers may expect the snake handling to play a large role in the story. Yet very little of the plot actual
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
Beneath deserves to be on your list of horror books to read sooner, rather than later. I enjoyed every minute of this ride. This is my first Kristi DeMeester but it will not be my last. I hope she writes more sick reads!
And this book is sick.
Dark and disturbing, the prose sort of washes over you like briny, brackish water and leaves you feeling unsettled and dirty at the end of the day.
The blurb on the back of the back of the book gives you a great, surface level capture of what this story is
Jack +Books & Bourbon+
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
And where are the angels to guard? Where's the God of men and children?
VNV Nation - Serial Killer

Do you ever feel like a book was written just for you? Like, there’s some unspoken connection between you and the author, and somehow, despite not knowing each other, you share a kinship…and because of that kinship, the book they wrote has some sort of special resonance with you, and you’re like “yeah, I’m right there with you”? Like they somehow heard the thoughts in your head and managed to convert
Michael Hicks
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beneath is one heck of a book, for the most part. I'll state up front that the ending didn't quite work for me, and it felt as if DeMeester wasn't sure how to wrap up the events of her story in a satisfying way. This is a slow-burn horror book, but where there should have been a big finale, the story disappointingly fizzles out and slowly fades away. I would also advise that this very much a "me" issues, and might not be a "you" issue, so please don't let that deter you. Read it and judge for yo ...more
Tracy Robinson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A snake handling religion located in a small church in an even smaller backwoods town. A reporter with a dark history surrounding the church of her childhood. A mother and daughter enveloped in a slinking, slithery darkness with ties to horrors that aren’t as removed from the everyday world as we’d like to think.

Beneath boasts a dark beauty and DeMeester’s talent lies in her descriptive writing and her world-building when it comes to this novel. The characters are well-developed, and some of th
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.

My friend Sadie is a horror nut like me, and every once in a while she will message me and say "you need this". Not only does she love horror, but she loves pretty much all of the same things that I love, so if Sadie says I need something, I definitely need it. This is one that she told me I needed.

I bought it, and like a lot of the books I buy it got buried under piles of other books that arrived shortly after and I forgot about it. Not entirely, though. I knew I wanted to read DeMees
Michael Adams
Devastatingly bleak novel that ratchets up the tension and terror page by page and never relents. Snake cults, religious horror, the horrors of organized religion, the weakness of the flesh, the pleasure and the price of sin, and a haunting conclusion combine to form one unforgettable beast. Compulsively readable, with smooth, fluid prose, and filled with a cast of truly realistic and fully-realized characters. Highly recommended to weird and horror fans who thrive in dark places, both geographi ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beneath is an apocalyptic novel involving evangelicals and snake handling. Several characters were only children of single mothers who I found 'easy' to relate to. I'm not sure what else I could add.
This is a great first (published) novel - a first rate horror novel - and I look forward to seeing what Kristi DeMeester writes in the future.

In the meantime, I'm going to dig into her first story collection Everything That's Underneath: A Collection of Weird and Horror Tales
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
**Review coming soon!**
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Snake handling is an obscure practice of a Christian sect, based on some very literal interpretation of scripture.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will ge
Orrin Grey
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unfortunately, I finished reading this literally the day before I went into emergency surgery, so there goes any notion of my penning an actually insightful review. That said, I wanted to at least note my reading of it down, and say a few things, probably more poorly than I would were I in less pain or on less medication. I'm a fan of Kristi DeMeester and of Word Horde, and this novel got sold to me on the strength of the "horror novel about snake handling" logline, as well as my hearing a bit o ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a pretty sleazy, but very entertaining, horror novel set in rural North Carolina concerning a disturbed snake-handling evangelical preacher, an equally disturbed sixteen year old girl who has a fixation on the preacher and a journalist doing a story on the preacher (who also has issues). Who doesn’t have issues in this unsettling novel? The first half was really great, setting the scene, loading up the atmosphere, building the characters, giving us the feel of the mountain etc. Whilst t ...more
Leo Robertson
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
DeMeester is a contemporary hella lauded author, and I see her name cropping up time and again on my Twitter feed, in my mag subscriptions and so on.

And my God I don't think I've seen such a pretty book cover maybe ever. I LOVE it. (How do you even go about making something like that? Is it painted? Photoshopped? Reminds me of those Pre-Raphaelite paintings like "Lady of Shalott" except without all those OUTRAGEOUS colours :D!)

No-brainer, had to pick this up.

This story is executed with quite a c
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
I had to have this novel based on DeMeester’s dark story collection, Everything That's Underneath, that is by turns disturbing and beautiful.

I wasn’t as impressed with Beneath as I wanted to be, but it is still a worthy horror debut that shows strong talent, a great imagination, and that the women of horror are here to make a name for themselves.

What I liked most about the novel was how many different types of horror it manages to weave into the narrative. There is the very real horror of sexua
Kevin Lucia
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review soon on
Alex findingmontauk1
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
My introduction to DeMeester did NOT disappoint! This was a great book and irked me hardcore - full review to come!
David Bridges
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beneath has all the elements I love in a good southern gothic horror story, it has the South obviously, religious fundamentalism, including a pedophilic priest, and language that encompasses dread. I have to admit that this book takes a turn for the bizarre and grotesque that I wasn’t exactly expecting. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it was not “The Great Worm”.

Initially, the story reminds me of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects (which is my favorite Flynn by the way) when Cora, a r
Brian O'Connell
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, weird
An excellent horror novel which blends religion, sex, and giant worm snake gods into an indelibly frightening mix. I just can't get enough of Kristi DeMeester's work--she's incredible. While I can see why some people took issue with the ending, I found this book to be a skin-crawling frightfest all the way through. And the believable characters, coupled with the beautiful prose, make the whole thing work perfectly.

Highly recommended.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unique and absolutely terrifying. A thrilling read. Full review to come.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love, love, love a good cult story and DeMeester, who has already made an impression on the horror community with her short fiction, delivers a twisted and compelling debut novel. Cora Mayburn, a journalist, visits a late-80s Appalachian community to write an article on a snake-handling church. What she finds is a town in thrall to something even more monstrous; an ancient and powerful god has corrupted a teenage girl, already vulnerable in her newfound sexuality that is at odds with her conse ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kristi DeMesster book Beneath was in three words: dirty, unsettling, and so intense I couldn't put it down. It was definitely a 4 but couldn't give it a 5 bcz it made me feel like my mind needed a hot cleansing shower...….
M. Dixon
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent Horror novel. This kind of reminded me of something from the old Dell Abyss Horror line. This book delivers its Horror up dark and delicious. I look forward to reading more from Kristi DeMeester.

Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I haven't read much horror outside of Stephen King, but this book makes me want to get on board. The writing was hypnotic. I truly felt like I was coming out of a trance when I had to set the book down. I loved the way the realism took me further into the darkness of the weird.
Christopher  Nelson
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Fresh New Voice; A Terrifying Vision

This book scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t get away from it.

BENEATH is a true horror story. There is no psychological twist, no buried lesson in modern allegory, and certainly no sprinkles or silver lining. If you came here to feel, to be part of Poe’s American Romantic Movement and it’s defining nature steeped in tragedy, strap in. Kristsi DeMeester delivers horror with realism and the terrifying threads that connect us at our shared, basal fears.
Shaun  (Eclectic Reads)
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
See my full video review at
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are some truly horrifying places where Kristi DeMeester can take you.

She’ll begin by leading you into the lush green of an Appalachian mountain town where the locals worship caught up in the spirit, speaking in tongues, and passing snakes between them.

Mind, y’all - that’s in the daylight, just idyllic sun-washed churchgoing and the snakes won’t bite if sin’s not in your soul, but something terrible, ancient and evil, is stirring in the earth below.


C’mon, she says, her words flowing l
Cory Stegall
Man.. this one started off really strong and gradually it fell apart (for me).The premise and setting were really cool and creepy but honestly I started to take issue with the story telling : some things would be described beautifully with elegant detail and others, (like really important things) would just be thrown at you so quick you could almost miss them! Almost like a jump scare in a horror movie but that doesn’t work on a printed page.As far as the story itself, I’m pretty sure in the mid ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book started off great. The premise of a small Appalachian town with a snake-handling church and a big-city reporter coming to town to write about said church caught my attention immediately. Then, it fell off the edge. It became a rambling series of crazy scenes, with two main characters that were impossible to identify with on any level. The story wasn't fleshed out. The characters were flat. It was a relatively short novel, but seemed to drag on with no real ending. I'm still not entirel ...more
Reagan Rudbäck
Great writing craft, TERRIBLE storytelling. I am so agitated that I actually bought this. There is almost no story to this. No discernible reasoning or definible explanation for anything at all. Completely detracts from all plausibility as a story. It's just a bunch of random, mostly just vaguely frightening events that occur for no apparent reason.
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