Book Review: Creepers by David Morrell

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of urban exploration. I think because I am a photographer and a history/anthropology student and these things culminate in wanting to find places where time has stood still and document them. I’m told the urban exploration scene in Perth is quite active, but I doubt I’ll ever be involved as it’s too hard to find a babysitter and too dangerous to risk not coming back to pick up my kids. Urban exploration will always be just a dream at the back of my mind, a dream I satiate with books like this.

I read Creepers last night. From cover to cover. It’s such an easy read, despite it’s gruesome bits (think razor wire and beheading). It starts off with a history professor and his three ex-students who invite a journalist on their annual exploration, this time heading through storm drains into an abandoned hotel with a strange history. The night seems easy enough, even with malformed albino cats and blind rats dogging them in the tunnels and the smell of decaying wood everywhere, but the group climb higher and higher up the stairs they find macabre remnants of the guests that used to occupy the hotel. A dead monkey. A room full of booze. A mysterious safe filled with gold coins. Perhaps the professor hasn’t told them everything about this hotel.

After an accident renders the professor helpless, the group discover they are not alone in the hotel. There are other who want the gold and will stop at nothing to get it. But then the safe is opened there is a woman amongst the gold, and the thieves are not the only ones with violent intentions – someone never left the hotel.

It’s an edge of your seat story which descends into a hell of gore and insanity and explosions and swirling floodwater. Who is the psychopathic Ronnie and what is his connection to the hotel? Is it just coincidence that Balenger took this story on this particular night or is he looking for something? Or someone? Every truth uncovered reveals another dozen questions and Morrell keeps a reader enthralled right to the very last page. While I’m not fond of gore, this book is fairly matter of fact about it, neither dwelling on it too long or skipping over it completely. The characters are realistic enough – jealousy, attraction, greed, cowardice and stupidity all appear, even in the ‘good’ characters which makes everyone seem more human. Sometimes the conversation is a little wordy and the timeline a little disjointed, but for the man part this book consists of good, solid writing, an amazing plot with unguessable twists and characters who you root for even when their failings are more than apparent.

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