“Ever been to a big college town on a football Saturday night?” is the tagline for Bill Braddock’s debut, Brew... and what a debut it is.
The novel begins on such a night, when the parties spill onto the streets and the game is little more than an excuse to drink and make a memory, until all hell breaks loose. Brew follows a cast that includes a drug dealer and his girlfriend, a veteran recently returned from Afghanistan, an amateur pornographer, and a psychopath chemist named Herbert Weston, who has sabotaged the town’s favorite micro-brew "Cougar Piss" with a drug he calls “Phineas Gage and the Amygdala Hijack Express!” which turns those who drink it into mindless, sex-crazed cannibals.
What follows is a non-stop onslaught of graphic horror and action. Braddock’s novel owes more than a small debt to the writing of Richard Laymon (acknowledged subtly throughout the book), but unlike the glut of Laymon’s imitators, Braddock has the chops to pull it off. His characters are strong, and his writing is solid throughout. The gore and gross-out levels are high in Brew, but the story has more to it than that.
If you’re a fan of Richard Laymon or Brian Keene, or you like your horror with a high body count and a scene or two (or more) to turn your stomach, then Brew’s for you. It's one of the best debuts I’ve seen in quite some time, and one of the best “extreme horror” novels I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.