The Affected: A Novel by James McNally
What’s that sound?
In The Affected author James McNally ushers us into an ordinary world suddenly ravaged by an unspeakable evil. It is a slow creep upon a small town that reminded me of films such as The Mist and The Happening where things are going on in the backdrop that are sinister but you have no idea the gravity of it until it is happening to you instead of around you. It is not necessarily fast-paced but once things begin rolling you can’t put this book down because you have to stay plugged in and find out just what this really is.
Field of Nightmares
It begins in a field. We are introduced to Jeffrey whom is part of a crew of workers harvesting onions. In the sweltering heat he is being harassed by an older overseer whom comes across as crass and Jeffrey wants nothing more than to be left alone to his work. It is but a short time later that both men’s attention divert to a stranger dressed all in white who clearly is out of place amongst the workers. As the stranger comes across the first he oddly touches his ear and a stand of attention begins to occur as this touch of the ear passes down the line. Jeffrey himself encounters the touch of the stranger and from there the nightmare begins…
Despite the lead in with the prologue this piece is centered around The Burnette family which is composed of husband and wife, Trevor and Krista, and their son, Demy, whom is deaf. Demy seems to draw everyone together via their instant love for him from their neighbors Diane and Ethan to a sweet older couple named Gavin and Tessa.
Nothing about our circle of main characters really wowed me or tugged on my heartstrings. I was more enthralled with what was happening around them than who they were. There were very real internal struggles but I was left feeling as though I knew of them but I didn’t really know them. My guess is that this was an attempt to bring normalcy to the strangeness that was occurring in order to show the reader this could happen to anyone, anywhere, not only to the extraordinary, not just in huge populations. They were described just fine but there was just no connection to me other than face value.
Azazel and His Henchman
Azazel, of whom’s name we do not learn until toward the end of the piece, is the draw. You want to know who or what this man is and what it is that he is doing to this community. What is his pull? What is it that the people that he is turning hearing? What is this dark purpose? I am sure that was McNally’s intention because the mystery surrounding this entity is the driving force and his description. though comedic in reference, is also frightening even before the transformation.
Brody & Jennifer, though lesser characters, seemed to shine through more to me as a reader than our leading characters. Not in a sense that they stole the show or anything but more because they stood out against an otherwise mundane backdrop.
I give The Affected a rating of 4/5. It was an interesting read with definite scary moments. It leaves you with an unsettling feeling which of course you’d want to receive in reading a horror novel. My ding in the rating resides in the characterization. The characters just were not memorable for me. I didn’t feel any sort of emotional attachment to any of them but even with that I would still recommend this book for a read. The close to home reality and gruesomeness of this peace will really draw you in!
Sound like something up your alley? Obtain a copy of The Affected here!