Review: Tim Miller's FERTILE FIELDS
Extreme horror author Tim Miller's Fertile Fields is a compact, gruesome, and at times utterly horrific descent into cult madness and depravity. With echoes of real-life cults such as Heaven's Gate, the Peoples Temple, and the Branch Dividians, the novel tells the gutsy story of a documentary filmmaker and his crew who set out to expose a murderous cult in the wilderness of Texas. What follows is about 200 pages of gore, extreme violence, sexual perversion and more.
No matter the cost, documentary filmmaker Bronson Sinclair is determined to make a film about a mysterious group that lives in the back country of Texas. Led by the seemingly peaceful Prophet Drake, the group describes itself as a "fertility" cult that espouses breeding, the birth of children, and human sexuality above all other virtues. But Bronson and his crew--including cameraman Manuel and a woman named Julia and her girlfriend--believe that the cult may be responsible for the disappearance of three young women. Once the ambitious filmmakers enter the compound and begin their investigation, all hell breaks loose, beginning with a demented sex ritual that they witness in the middle of the night and an all-out blood war by the novel's rapid-fire conclusion.
Miller knows how to spin an extreme tale. As long as readers understand what they're in for, they are sure to have a blast with countless scenes of brutality and raw, visceral bloodletting. The plot, however, offers little surprises, as everything that the film crew suspected of the cult comes true and the filmmakers themselves seem to lack any sort of moral compass (especially at the beginning of the novel when they witness child rape and abuse and refuse to contact law enforcement for the sake of their project). What could have been an intriguing look into the minds of protagonists with serious flaws comes up a bit flat, as Miller never explores with any depth the characterizations of his heroes. But most alarming about Fertile Fields is the number of grammatical and mechanical errors. On literally every page, the author makes multiple punctuation mistakes that seriously detract from the reading experience. If Miller had spent more time in this novel correcting, editing, and fleshing out his characters, Fertile Fields would have really held up as a strong example of revolutionary and shocking art. That said, I still flipped through the final pages with morbid curiosity about how the filmmakers, if any, would survive the mayhem and torture inflicted upon them. Miller's book is a blood-soaked murder ride of unchecked insanity--I picked up the book hoping that's what I would get, and the author delivered from the very outset.
I would urge anyone with a penchant for the macabre and the horrifically perverse to check out Tim Miller's Amazon author page here. He's got a ton of extreme horror stories and novels to choose from, and despite the problems noted above, I'm going to pick up some of his other works soon. Fertile Fields can be purchased right here.