Updated: Oct 19, 2021
The second story in the Skitters collection by @nick.harper_writes , Dry July concerns a group of hard drinking friends on New Years Eve who plan a Dry January and bet on who will (or most likely won’t) make it. But a horde of hungry ———‘s surround the area, looking to feed on the captive buffet on offer.
First things first, the first half of this story, before the creatures arrive, is actually the most horrifying to me, as it concerns alcoholism amongst the group of friends who all have their various battles with the bottle. As someone who has had a difficult and occasionally destructive relationship with alcohol throughout my life, this section hit hard. Harper is unsparing in his blunt skewering of their behaviour and attitudes to booze. There is no glamourising of the party lifestyle here. In fact it feels like you’re a sober person entering a boozy pub late at night and being confronted by the sorry state of affairs inside.
And then the monsters arrive - again I won’t say what exactly - and the bloodbath begins. The story pivots from the horror of reality to one of supernatural, and the NYE massacre that results, ends the story in explosive and gory fashion, and was almost a relief to me after the (rightfully) confronting nature of the first part.
Harper has a real knack for conveying a sense of place and character in a short period of time, here you can smell the booze, hear the sounds and see the inhabitants of the bar in a few quick passages. He skilfully sets up his characters before knocking (most of them) down and even manages to throw in a clever twist at the end.
4.5 🍺 out of 5.
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