Genre Horror Publisher Earthling Publications Year Published 2004 Review Posted on 10/5/2004 Reviewer Rating
10 out of 10
Game, by Conrad Williams
Reviewed by Paul Goat Allen
If you've read this book, why not
With the audacious violence and profanity of a Quentin Tartantino flick and the dystopian ambiance of Anthony Burgess' 1962 classic A Clockwork Orange, Game by Conrad Williams is an unabashedly brutal novel about revenge, desperation -- and inevitable karma.
Bas Eachus, a sadistic thug free on the streets of London after spending eight years in prison, is out to kill everyone who wronged him. At the top of his "shit list" are the three people who unknowingly put him in jail -- Liam, his sister Rache and his girlfriend Fi. With Liam hidden away in some dark warehouse strung up tighter than a Thanksgiving turkey, Bas informs Rache and Fi that they must slaughter three other targets on his list within 24 hours. If they fail to contact him with appropriate evidence at specific time intervals, Bas drains another pint of blood from Liam's body...
At the same time, a strange, mentally unstable woman named Ness is searching the streets of London looking for her long-lost lover. Her will to find him is strengthened by strange visions of looming horrific violence.
When plot lines inevitably meet and intertwine, the defecation hits the rotating oscillator and bloody chaos ensues. The game is about to end -- and no one will come out a winner.
The comparisons between Williams' Game and the Burgess classic A Clockwork Orange goes far beyond dark setting. The narrative voice of Bas Eachus is eerily similar to that of Clockwork's protagonist Alex. In the following passage, Bas describes a street urchin who has been following him: "The little monkey-faced twat who's been stagging me the past few days. He's looking at me, blank as you like, as if someone's nipped in sharpish and whipped his brains out of the back of his head without him noticing. Slack-jawed freak. Chewing his Bubblicious, grit under his fingernails so thick you could plant a ****ing herb garden in there."
Fans who enjoy their horror extremely rare (pink on the inside with a lot of blood) and their characters evil personified will enjoy this intriguing novella, which is only 80 pages long. Those who aren't interested in innumerable gruesome crime scenes should probably look for their horror elsewhere.
Paul Goat Allen is the editor of Barnes & Noble's Explorations science fiction/fantasy book review and is the author of Burning Sticks, Old Winding Way and Warlock Dreams.