They Come at Night is billed as a gothic horror novel by Nick Clausen, it feels like a weak attempt at a horror novella for a young adult audience.
I hate that I didn’t enjoy this book very much because I’m a huge supporter of indie authors, as you can see from my recent review of indie author Jenna Moreci’s first novel.
It follows a group of friends as they go to one of the friend’s parents’ beach house, which he keeps calling a cottage and it irritates me. While they’re there, they find out that for 3 nights out of the year a fish werewolf type thing, that is called a sea demon three-quarters of the way through the book, can attack houses that are near the coast because they can only go as far as the tide.
As far as the group dynamic goes, it’s rough. I’m really struggling to find elements I liked in the book. I guess I’m impressed the author finished a book. It’s more than I’ve done personally…so far…
Honestly, though, the novel takes the simple elements of horror movies and tries to drive the story with that. It doesn’t work well. The main character is a guy named Jayden, who has a huge crush on his friend’s sister Sienna. That means there are only two routes it can go, she either doesn’t make it or they end up having a lot of sex. I won’t give away which way it goes, but those are the only two options.
The book is obviously the author’s first book. It shows. There’s no real substance. I like horror when it’s done well because it usually is a deep character investigation. Take the film Hereditary as the perfect example of what a good horror story should be.
They Come at Night doesn’t really do it for me though. It’s lacking character depth. The plot isn’t super well thought out and can be overcome with a little common sense. The whole ordeal could have been avoided very quickly by simply listening to the advice of a boy encountered early on. On top of that, why don’t the people in the city tell the new tenants about the issue and/or do one plot element to stop anyone from dying? I couldn’t tell you. Nick Clausen’s first attempt at a novel is pretty weak.
He has a second book is available for free on his website that I might give a go to see if he improved, but based on his first novel, I’m not super impressed.