A love letter to 90s cinema Virgin Night (the night before Valentine’s Day) for the townspeople of Cherry Lake is very different from everywhere else. Why? Because Cherry Lake is cursed by a centuries-old slasher intent on murdering anyone who dares to have sex around the most romantic time of the year.
My first impressions of this story, having been a fan of Christopher‘s writing for some time, is that Virgin Night is a blockbuster size story, in terms of scale and scope. Even the themes such as sex, which is examined diversely and feels like a breath of fresh air for such novels set in the 80s-90s time period. As well as themes of faith and organised religion, two very different things; all this is examined on a big Hollywood blockbuster canvas. It’s exciting to see, yet with going ‘bigger’ there is the risk of losing something. In Chris’s case what has stood out to me most in his writing is the quieter, intimate moments between his characters.
There’s a sense that he genuinely cares for them all and wants to give them their moment to shine. I can happily report that even though he’s working on a bigger scale he does not lose this quality. An example being the moments between Caleb, Vincent, Michael, and Casey, the four friends that are central to the story, when they are simply interacting with one another. I found myself enjoying Caleb’s frenzied word vomit, Vincent’s deadpan put down’s, Casey‘s grounded maturity, and Michael’s stoic reluctance to participate in the groups nonsense enough that I would reread the passages where all of them interact just for the joy of it. P
Speaking of frenzied this feels like Chris’s most frantic book!! The pace is like being placed on a rollercoaster that intends to never stop until you have a heart attack, it’s relentless, unforgiving as you are propelled through the story’s pages at the speed of sound. That frenzied feeling makes the story feel like Chris isn’t just writing a love letter to the 90s horror but also doing so with a satirical lens much like the way Terry Pratchett did for fantasy. As such Chris’s writing remains unlike anything in the horror genre, its mix of humour, heart, and horror being like an assault. Chris has stated that he doesn’t view himself as a writer more a storyteller. I would argue that he is and that he’s one of the most important voices working in the horror genre today.