I know. It’s been several months since Thanksgiving. But I’m currently about a year behind on my “to read” pile, and I fell even further behind due to interruptions such as the holidays, putting my Christmas horror novel out in December, and, well, the stress and distraction of the election season.
Speaking of the current political and social climate in the U.S., Turkey Day by Armando D. Muñoz is the kind of commentary horror we will probably be seeing a whole lot more of in the coming years as artists channel their angst into their creations. We’ve already been seeing it in horror films like The Purge franchise and Red State, and Muñoz himself is a filmmaker (I cover his films and his previous novel here), so it’s no surprise that Turkey Day reads like a holiday slasher movie.
Muñoz is the king of campy, crude horror, and some of that can be found here, considering the killer in this slasher novel is dressed in a turkey costume, is called Turkey, and goes around on Thanksgiving Day mutilating a family to make them the main course. With the author being a lifelong fan of horror, it is no surprise that all the crucial elements of a slasher are perfectly presented, including gruesome, inventive kills, chase scenes, body reveals, and a whodunit…or is it a whatdunit?
Yet Turkey Day is not simply a masked-killer-hacks-up-horny-teens slasher. This is an unapologetic story about the vicious cultural clash between the far left and far right, with a lesbian couple leaving the safe bubble of urban life to celebrate the holiday in a small, conservative town. Right from chapter one, you’ll be wondering why the frick they would even bother.
Even though they are a couple of tree-hugging, clit-licking liberals, Kelly is bringing her wife Angela to meet her family for the first time. Problem is, while most of the family is accepting and supportive, Kelly’s mother and grandmother have gone off the deep end, serving up a dish of hateful religious extremism the likes of the Phelps clan of crazies. In fact, both sides come across as virtual caricatures of their ideology.
To illustrate the point of division in our country, Muñoz doesn’t hold back, with all members of both parties regularly, aggressively expressing their beliefs and opinions through their words, actions, and thoughts, so that essentially, everyone is in-your-face and unwilling to except that the other side has a differing viewpoint. These characters eat, breathe, and sleep their feelings on everything they loathe about the opposition.
Reading the novel will make you feel just as anxious and angry as most people on either side of the wall…um, I mean…aisle do in our current reality. However, you’ll also have your own stance challenged, for there are moments when even the characters representing the “side” you more identify with are so hyperbolic and antagonistic that they become rather detestable. The good news with that is…Turkey doesn’t discriminate, so everyone is on the chopping block.
The rest – the brutally descriptive gore, tension and suspense, atmosphere, and shocking killer reveal – is gravy.