I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, but I do watch horror TV shows. Not many of them, but a few. Mostly, though, I satisfy my horror craving by reading books in the genre.
You know what’s particularly satisfying, though? A horror novel written in a way that has me picturing its scenes as though I’m watching a horror movie. It doesn’t happen very often, and I’m always left a little extra impressed when it does.
That’s the type of experience I got when I read Clowders, by Vanessa Morgan. I can’t guarantee you’ll have that exact same experience if you read it, but, if you’re a fan of eerie horror stories, I’m sure you’ll at least enjoy it.
Clervaux is a small town in Luxembourg, and, like many small towns, it holds a secret. Here, cats are more than just the adorable, friendly creatures that have kept the town’s tourism trade booming. In Clervaux, cats are sacred, and, as Aidan and Jess are soon to find out, the death of one means the death of many.
Clowders launches into its horror right from the start, making the book hard to put down. The tension that Morgan introduces at the beginning of the book holds throughout. Yes, in some ways, this means you have an idea of what’s coming. The beauty of it, however, is that you don’t know how it’s coming. And I have to tell you, I did not expect things to play out the way that they did.
Also beautiful is the utter contrast between the setting and the events in the novel. Clerveaux is situated in a treed, mountainous region, and Morgan’s descriptions of it are wonderful. They make for a particularly great element when played against, or used to enhance, the tenser moments in the book.
Clervaux, Luxembourg. This secluded, picturesque town in the middle of Europe is home to more cats than people. For years, tourists have flocked to this place – also known as “cat haven” – to meet the cats and buy cat-related souvenirs.
When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they’ve arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants’ adoration of their cats is unhealthy. According to a local legend, each time a cat dies, nine human lives are taken as a punishment. To tourists, these tales are supernatural folklore, created to frighten children on cold winter nights. But for the inhabitants of Clervaux, the danger is darkly, horrifyingly real.
Initially, Aidan and Jess regard this as local superstition, but when Jess runs over a cat after a night out in the town, people start dying, one by one, and each time it happens, a clowder of cats can be seen roaming the premises.
Are they falling victim to the collective paranoia infecting the entire town? Or is something horrible waiting for them? Something unspeakably evil.
Aidan and Jess’ move to Europe may just have been the worst decision they ever made.