Don’t Move, a new horror novel from James S. Murray (aka Murr from Impractical Jokers) and Darren Wearmouth, hit bookstores on October 20, 2020, and the bold page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat from the very first chapter to it’s terrifying end.
The novel opens with Meagan and her husband and son bringing their day at the state fair to an end. The boy wants to go on just one more ride, and after a moment, she relents and watches as her two favorite fellas climb aboard. Seconds later, everything goes wrong and her life is forever-changed as the ride malfunctions and her family is killed in front of her eyes.
Flash forward nine months later, and Meagan is still dealing with an endless, soul-crushing grief when she decides to join a church group on a camping trip, thinking the fresh air and change of pace is exactly what she needs. Little does she know that her troubles are only beginning. A giant arachnid like something straight out of a horror movie calls these woods home and while the beast is basically blind, it tracks its prey based on the vibrations of their movements and it is a very capable hunter.
As her fellow campers are picked off, one by one, Megan must summon every ounce of survival instinct she has to stay alive.
Murray and Wearmouth opened Don’t Move with perhaps one of the most brutal death scenes I’ve ever read in a novel of this kind. The smells of freshly popped popcorn and cotton candy mingle with and are overtaken by searing flesh and the metallic tang of blood as Meagan’s whole world goes sideways in an instant.
What is perhaps more telling about the writers’ intentions in the novel, however, is that while this scene is brutal, it is nothing compared to the emotional wreckage our protagonist is left to deal with in the aftermath. Everything reminds her of her husband and son, and each reminder brings with it anxiety so crushing that the reader holds their breath with her and counts to ten to try to right a course that will never be entirely true ever again.
What I liked most about Meagan, however, is that she is given agency of her own. Her motivations are complicated, but she does not wait around for someone to save her. In fact, by the end of the novel, she’s done quite a bit of saving herself.
As authors, Murray and Wearmouth excel at pacing and description. They have an innate knack for honing in on just the right details to paint a picture without spending so much time that the story lags. While there are no doubt those who hate this style of storytelling, for me it makes reading a novel an active experience. I’m not just watching the events, I am completing them.
What’s that you say? What about the monster?
Look, I am not in the least arachnophobic. I’ve never had a problem with spiders at all, but Don’t Move made my skin crawl. Setting aside the size of the creature which is unsettling to begin with, the thing that really comes across and makes the beast terrifying is its intelligence.
Certainly, it operates on primal instincts, but it is also very smart and it knows how to set very clever traps. It is the apex predator of its domain and it didn’t get there by making mistakes.
Don’t Move is undeniably a cinematic book, and one that I could easily see adapted into film. Perhaps the filmmakers behind Crawl could give it a go.
For now, I highly recommend you add it to your reading lists. The novel is available on Kindle, Audible, Audio CD, and hardcover by CLICKING HERE!