With his novel Squish-Squash, author Pol McShane has written my favorite kind of horror novel. It’s a short, fast read that you can picture as a horror movie in your mind as you’re breezing through the pages.
While this isn’t specifically a “gay” horror novel, the main couple in the novel is a gay couple (for a change!). Along with four (straight) friends, they head off into the depths of the Louisiana bayou for a camping trip…and soon discover there’s a hideous creature pursuing them.
Fans of creature features and backwoods horror will feel right at home with Squish-Squash. It has all the classic elements and follows the conventions of the subgenres. We get chapters seeing the world from the creature’s perspective. There’s infighting and drama between members of the group, and we get glimpses into their characters (and their issues) through flashbacks. There’s a little old lady living in the bayou who tells them the tale of “Squish-Squash,” complete with a catchy rhyme about him. There are suspenseful chases and intense siege scenes. And eventually, the hero (a gay guy, again, for a change) must face off against the creature.
Despite some grisly descriptions and gore (love the descriptions of the creature), the body count is exceptionally low. Also, the introductory chapter of the book pretty much tells the reader all he needs to know to figure out what the big revelation will be at the end of the novel. While my editor would totally insist I delete such a prologue to keep in some of the mystery (she does it to me with every book), its inclusion does compel the reader to keep turning pages to see how the big revelation pans out!
There’s definitely an argument for both approaches to the storytelling (one I’ll never win with my editor), and considering Squish-Squash reads like a horror movie thrill ride, the early reveal technique absolutely makes sense here. It’s the kind of novel you get to the end of and think, “I really need to check out more books by this author.”
Here’s Pol, looking all shady. You can check out all his titles on his website.