A Review of Succubi High by Barry O’Neil

Succubi High by Barry O'Neil

Succubi High by Barry O’Neil

Some works about succubi and incubi are just that little bit different to make them interesting, unique, and tell a story that’s more about the darker places within one’s soul than it is about the creatures that inhabit the darker places. Any good story being told needs to give life to the characters within the story, to have them face their fears, and, most of all, their own selves and see themselves for what they are.

Perhaps the darkest place of all is high school. Much of the time, one need not have succubi or incubi, or for that matter, any sort of evil to not have evil happen. There comes a point where one’s own soul needs to see that they are more than they believe themselves to be.

The work tells of:

Vickie Helsing and her best friend, Scott Chambers, begin October of their junior year with a fading friendship and blossoming obsessions with the wrong people. A school-wide sexting scandal gives them common cause, and with the help of friends who know only hints of what’s really going on, Vickie races to uncover the whole truth before hell’s horde bursts through the floor of the school’s cafetorium and sends her small town careening toward chaos.

High school can be thought of as hell. Some high schools are hell. The difference is when that darkness isn’t pushed back, it waits and bides its time. Then all hell breaks loose and few are left to resist what comes.

Overall this work is a mix of teenage angst and horror with a little bit of sarcasm tossed into the mix. There isn’t very much in the way of erotica, though there are hints towards that at times. For the most part any sort of erotic moments are left up to the reader’s imagination. The core of the plot, and story, is a slow building up of things turning from a typical day towards things being wrong, and then being very, very much so. At its core this work is horror themed, there are many moments of horror, some of which are teenage slasher film levels of horror, but still horror.

The characters are well developed and they change over the course of the story, not always for the better, but they do change. The hero isn’t who it seems to be meant to be at the beginning, the plots that are brought into play are a mix of modern and more ancient things that are feared. At times the story is a little hard to follow, though that can be said to be reflective of the characters themselves. Confusion is the word of the day throughout the work and trying to piece together what’s happening takes a lot of time, much like the plot and events to unfold towards the climax.

The succubi and incubi that appear are monstrous creatures, they are, after all, meant to be very dark and so they are. Again, there’s little in the way of seduction in these beings, their purpose never really quite being told fully. They are a mystery, there’s no clear explanation about why they are there, what they want. They don’t speak, they don’t interact with the main characters save to growl and threaten, over and over again.

The ending is very much a teenage slasher film ending, which borders on the edge pf being almost Buffy-like here and there. There are came very dark moments, which works, but the ending was, at least for me, expected. But while the ending was expected, there are many loose ends not tied up, there are events not closed. The postscript seems to suggest that the story isn’t over, there are several plot points left dangling and stressed at the end.

At times some of the friendship moments were wonderful, at other times things went too far into stereotypical horror. As such the story ran hot and cold for me, really a bit uneven at times, but the author did stay true to their characters and story. As a thriller, it is a bit long, a little lost at times. Perhaps some of the events needed to be more focused than they were. While the story is told from the perspective of the teenagers involved, there’s really no clear idea what the succubi and incubi wanted. Lots of questions left, with an ending that left me wondering what it all meant.

Three out of five pitchforks.

As teenage horror, the work is very well written and I can see this being made into a movie all things considered. I would like to know what comes next however, that’s a story left open and perhaps the author will explore that. They might even explain just what was going on in the first place and why. The ending, after all, only suggests a beginning.

 

Tera

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