Review: Adam Vine's LURK
Adam Vine's novel Lurk is a unique blend of psychological thriller and all-out horror that centers on a group of college kids and their discovery of a box of strange Polaroids buried in a hole beneath their home. The slick cover art and interesting plot blurb were the two factors that led me to purchasing the novel, but there's far more to Lurk than just these surface-level amenities. Though the book stumbles a bit in its incessant use of colloquial dialogue (the characters constantly say "whup"--I still don't know what it means) and too many forced horror-movie references, Vine spins a creepy tale of depression, mental illness, and the supernatural. Lurk follows college kids Drew, Jay, Bea, and a few others deep into that hole in the basement and what these young characters find there is nothing short of horrific. Photographs, in particular, are a constant motif in the book and serve not only to document the lives of the characters but also the ghoulish horror they unearth.
Lurk's protagonist is Drew, a horror movie fan and video-game enthusiast who enjoys drinking and getting high with his buddies on their property known as Sunny Hill. But Drew is no ordinary protagonist--he's severely overweight, watches too much porn, and slowly grows obsessed with one of the female friends in the group. In some ways, as the group discovers the Polaroids and links the pictures with the home's former inhabitants, Drew becomes like Jack Torrance in The Shining--paranoid, cruel, perhaps even psychotic. Near the novel's climax and resolution, Drew will endure many hallucinatory experiences, and it is in these sequences that Vine's love for gooey, sticky, blood-curdling horror really shines. The imagery is haunting and at times over-the-top, and it infuses Lurk with a nightmarish quality that mirrors Drew's dwindling state of mind.
In addition to the problematic dialogue, the novel could have been more sharply edited; readers already know that something is terribly wrong with this house and with these photographs that appear to change and alter reality, so waiting for the characters to piece the mystery all together becomes a bit of a slog. And because the characters fill almost all of their time drinking, smoking weed, playing games, and sleeping, the novel drags at key moments throughout the narrative. But still--Adam Vine's Lurk is a thought-provoking horror story that presents a frightening and multi-layered story that compelled me to overlook minor quibbles and relish in the good stuff. Offbeat and psychologically troubled characters; a infamous house with a wounded past; a handful of scenes of blood-soaked mayhem; and a supernatural "union" that brings out the jealousy, rage, and evil hiding in all of us. In addition, although Drew has many unlikable qualities, he expresses thoughts and feelings that most of us have had at one point in our lives--including fear of inadequacy and rejection and of loving someone who doesn't love us back. Put all of this together and you have an impressive first novel that is worth ending your summer with.