I want to support young writers. I want to say encouraging things about the small press. Sadly, it's becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

Case in point: Blood Spring, by Erik Williams. We've seen this sort of thing before, only done much better. Richard Laymon damned near specialized in it. But where Laymon's stories have developed characters and a brisk pace, Blood Spring feels hollow and amateurish. Thin, almost nonexistent characters and an overly familiar plot make it a book I can't recommend.

If it matters, a milquetoast couple are releasing a deer they nursed back to health into the forest. Conveniently, they borrowed a trailer to haul it in from their neighbor, the local sheriff. The whiny woman makes her ineffectual husband take them far into the woods and they are lost. They become captives of a generic savage family tribe. A group of pagan deity worshipers that live within walking distance of hiking trails. A supernatural element is hinted at, but never developed. There are no surprises, no suspense and there is no tension.

Williams isn't a bad writer, but he needs to work on fleshing out his characters and a better, more convincing plotline than he used in Blood Spring. Of course, the blurbsters taut the book. I trust blurbs about as much as I trust politicians these days.

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