Description:During the longest night of the century in Deer Springs, Colorado, the native creatures turn into the hunters, targeting a group of vacationers, and turning their winter vacation into a living hell. For the ones who lurk in shadow, anxious to even the score. Tonight’s the longest night of the century. The night of a thousand beasts. The night when they rise up and get to do to us what we do to them. It only happens once every seventy years. The night smells like blood and fear and sweat. The night smells of death.
John Palisano, author of Nerves, All that Withers, and Dust of the Dead among others has released a new horror novel, Night of 1,000 Beasts, which centers on a group of adults who think they’re in for the best winter skiing vacation of their lives in Colorado but they have no idea just what’s in store for them. In typical young adult fashion, they decide to go on this trip even though they’ve been warned ahead of time that the weather is bad. In that sense, we have the fairly typical “they chose to ignore the signs” trope with the five characters deciding nothing bad would ever happen to them. Our crew is made up of two couples, one of whom have a baby on the way, along with their obnoxious single friend, Keith.
From the get-go, it’s clear that as a fearsome avalanche sets off the chain of horrible events that keep progressively getting worse as the novel goes on that only one of these people will make it out alive, so the fun is always in guessing who it will be. It becomes a game of who is left standing as the body count rises.
Inspired by Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Elizabeth Massie and other horror writers, this novel is a tightly plotted and excellently paced tour-de-force from Palisano and is a gripping page turner that had me on tenterhooks as I devoured it in only a few sittings. The character development of the core group was excellent from their hopes and dreams making them come alive off the pages to seeing the strife and tensions as well as the secrets they try to keep buried from each other as well as from themselves.
It would have been nice if the beast characters received the same treatment, particularly as I was left with questions of why so many of them had humanoid elements, but at the end of the day, they played their parts and got the job done. Even when I knew what to expect as a reader, Palisano’s delivery packed some serious punches and he pulled that off quite well. Having said that, I would have also liked some of the events near the end of the book to have more believability, particularly one character’s feelings for another that seemed spontaneous and like they came out of nowhere. It would also have been good to see the rules of the titular “Night” alluded to a bit earlier in the book once the beasts entered the picture.
Still, in spite of some minor hiccups along the way, Night of 1,000 Beasts is horror fiction at its best: visceral, dark, and fraught with complex emotions. This is a fantastic novel from a gifted writer and I can’t recommend it highly enough, particularly as an entertaining read heading into the summer season.