“NOTHING LASTING” (E-Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Kevin Redding
With a story centering around a small town harboring a demented secret, Glen Krisch’s NOTHING LASTING is a fast-paced, disturbing, and extremely frustrating glimpse into how trapped someone can become when surrounded by the wrong people. But even though NOTHING LASTING’s literal horror is an unsolved case of missing children over that resurfaces as more seem to disappear, the real horror comes from witnessing how easily the main character transitioned from an innocent 12-year-old boy to someone whose life would forever be weighed down by a guilty conscience, stemming from a toxic relationship with someone he could not escape.
The setting for NOTHING LASTING is quite quaint: back in his old home of Maple Valley for the funeral of his father in 2009, Noah Berkley is clinging to the one hopeful memory from his childhood: that of Jenny Sparrow, his true love. Before bad times eventually swept up his innocence forever, Jenny was Noah’s one link to a long-gone happiness. As Noah strives to face the demons that consumed everything for him and reconnect with Jenny, Krisch takes the reader back to the fall and winter of 1984.
12-year-old Noah is distraught and moody, moving in with his dad to his grandpa’s old house, after a divorce that leaves him resentful towards his father and abandoned by his mother. As it turns out, Noah’s father has been seeing a woman he’s known since high school, Erin Dooling, and Noah is forced to accept Erin and her immediately-unsettling 13-year-old son, Derek, as new members of his life, whether he wants to or not. Derek Dooling is mischievous, calculative and dangerous, eyeing his sights on Noah from the moment they cross paths, convincing Noah to join him on a nightly exploration into an older woman’s house while she’s out. This leads to Noah’s first run-in with trauma, as Derek convinces Noah to help ransack the house while Derek kills the older woman’s cat.
The cat killing is only the beginning of Derek’s unpredictability and manipulation of Noah, who paralyzed with fear at the thought of turning Derek in for his crimes. Derek reminds Noah that he, too, was present to everything that happened. Prior to the home invasion, Derek poses this question to Noah: “Ever wonder about the secrets people keep?” It seems a bit forced and out of nowhere, but it’s a substantial theme for the story, which works most effectively when portraying Noah’s dwindling fall from grace under Derek Dooling. Even when Noah has brief moments of happiness when around his girlfriend Jenny Sparrow, he shakes himself out of it by remembering all the blood- yes, actual blood- on his hands. That’s a lot of stress to burden for a 12-year-old.
Krisch plays with suspense extremely well, such as in a scene where Noah and Derek investigate the potential child killer’s location in an abandoned area of maple Valley called the Rosewood Commons. The two eventually stumble across a “monster man”, chained up at his neck like a vicious animal, in a garage. The “monster man” lunges for them despite his reach limitations from the chains, and it’s written in such a vivid and creepy way that it urges you to coil up and dodge the reach yourself.
There are definitely moments where you want Krisch to not rush things along so much because in doing so, there are aspects that just don’t make sense. However, it is simultaneously captivating and aggravating to see Noah pulled along by Derek, and the story unravels a string of twists that certainly aren’t seen from miles away. NOTHING LASTING will leave you feeling cold, full-of-dread, and grateful that you don’t have to keep the sort of secrets that Noah does.
Glen Krisch’s NOTHING LASTING is now currently available from Cemetery Dance Publishing.