I love the characters in these stories. It is shocking how well author Alan Baxter not only creates characters, but makes each one unique, and makes each one fit perfectly in their individual stories. From a somewhat cantankerous truck driver to shadowy rock stars to desperate drug dealers, each character is incredibly strong. However, the strongest character is the town itself. Gullpepper (locals call it “The Gulp”) is a mysterious, haunting place that feels alive in its own right. Baxter has built a whole mythos around this town and area. He has set it up as a character and a place of both magic and horror.
“Gulpepper is just… different…the place has a habit of swallowing people.” Each tale is a strong story that not only lives on its own merit, but builds with the other stories like building blocks that create the anthology of horror that is The Gulp. I won’t go through each story individually, but I will say that I can’t pick a favorite. Each one is so different that they can’t be compared. With only 5 stories, there is no fluff. Each story is good and each story is necessary. Each of the five stories, despite having the common thread of Gullpepper, is very different while still holding true to the foundation Baxter built.
Baxter has a very accessible way of writing. Not simple, he is a gifted writer who proves to be extremely capable of painting amazingly vivid pictures with his prose. I say that his writing is accessible because his stories feel like dark tales being told in a room of a captivated audience. As I read each page, I was enthralled with each vivid event. I saw the town clearly, I felt each horror and my heart raced with every detail. The first story sets the scene, each story takes us on a trip showing the breadth of the horror or The Gulp, and then everything ties together in the last story. Baxter’s book is a clinic on how to tell a tale of horror.
It may sound like I’m blowing smoke, but I actually cannot think of a critique for The Gulp. Baxter’s book is fantastic and I am actually frustrated that I can’t think of even a small critique to write up. This has never happened before so….congratulations, Alan Baxter, you got me.
The Gulp is hopefully only the first of many books by Baxter about this town and its people. He has a wonderful creation here that can only grow and leave even more of a mark on the world of horror. Baxter builds a unique and intricate history of his world that is wonderful, horrifying, deep, and unique. I can’t wait for you all to read it! Go here and order a copy for yourself and visit the town of Gullpepper…hopefully you survive the trip.
Spoiler-Free Short-Film Reviews: DOUBLE NICKEL, BIRTHDAY WISH, and 3:00AM (Another Hole in the Head Film Festival)
Double Nickel (U.S., 2023) Writer/director Mark Tomov’s short Double Nickel uses Johnny Burnette and The Rock...