Fifty Books, 365 Days. Book Thirty Eight – Tentacle Death Trip by Jordan Krall

Date started: October 4th

Date finished: October 7th

Tentacle Death Trip is a pulp. I imagine you worked that out yourself from the title and cover art, but I had to state it up front. It tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which the richest man is a gangster named Mr Silver. In order to keep the masses in line, he organises various brutal forms of entertainment. The latest being a death race through New Jersey, with first prize being the pleasure of joining Mr Silver in going to the sunken city of R’lyeh, which has recently risen off the east coast of the USA.

The book itself is compact, at a lean 200 pages. Naturally, it’s focused on a very small cast. Samson is the most ordinary, a man who lost his wife and son and now races because it’s all he has left. Gabby Peppermint is a sociopath mall girl who is fond of running down civilians and bludgeoning them with a pink hammer. Mama Hell is a fundamentalist Christian in a world of sin, who wears a shawl made from another woman’s tattooed skin. Junko is a Japanese cross dressing former sex slave. And Drac Dunwich is a man whose head has been replaced with a gasoline filled glass skull, and who drives a car that has tentacles coming out of the bottom… Yeah.

A book like Tentacle Death Trip is hard to rate and review. Honestly, it’s kind of bad, but as I was reading I sensed that was the point of the whole thing. It comes from Bizarro Books, publishers of other fine literature such as The Baby Jesus Butt Plug, The Menstruating Mall, and The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment. It’s just one of those books.

For what it’s worth, Jordan Krall’s prose is functional. I was never left wondering what was happening at any given time, his action is well choreographed and easy to follow. It’s not particularly great writing, and I’m struggling even a day later to remember a sentence that really stuck out as being wonderful. But, at the same time, it’s not bad enough that I wanted to put the book down every few pages. It just exists to move the plot forward.

As for the story itself, there’s not much of one. The vast majority of the book is dedicated to the race itself, and once it starts, it rarely pauses for breath. There are flashbacks dotted throughout, giving a little extra dimension to each character as we’re shown exactly how they ended up in a place to enter this most prestigious of races, but even those are packed with action and gore to excess.

Another thing to note, this is not a book for the light hearted. When people die (and they do die a lot) it’s brutal. Not in a visceral sense, but in that over the top b-movie sense. I found it amusing, and even caught myself chuckling out loud at a couple of points, but anyone who’s not a fan of gratuitous violence should maybe give Tentacle Death Trip a wide berth.

It’s fast and fun. It’s not the best thing I’ve read all year, but it was never going to be. Given that it’s short enough to read in a sitting or two, and less than a pound on Kindle, I can’t not recommend it. It’s Death Race 2000 by way of H.P Lovecraft, and if that pitch gives you anything close to a tingle of excitement, you might just be the audience for something as ludicrous as Tentacle Death Trip.

Further adventures in horror Book Reviews:

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

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