Monday, October 25, 2021

[Review] - Revival Road by Chris DiLeo


On an average street in a typical suburban town, a child dies in an all-too-plausible accident. For Sherri Matthews, a neighbor who has dedicated her life to God’s calling, this is part of God’s plan. And when the child wakes in the morgue seemingly healed, Sherri knows she must now prepare the way for what comes next.


“Something big is coming,” the revived child promises. His pet dog, dead and buried weeks prior, has come back as well, but more monster than mutt. Abbott French and Ellie Pike have never trusted Sherri or her unwavering belief and don’t believe these resurrections are God’s work. But how to explain when his sickly mother dies and is resurrected? And what about the horror Chance Gold encounters in the woods and the voice that insists, You’re mine? Or the secret a mental patient who murdered her friend knows? Or the terrible thing Carl Nichols is hiding in his basement? Or the hundreds of crows gathering across the street as if in anticipation?


As Sherri gathers believers, she takes an unthinkable step to fulfill God’s plan. Meanwhile, Abbott and Ellie must find out why this is happening and how they can stop it. The stage is set for a gruesome, apocalyptic showdown between good and evil, between life and death—where life may be the most horrifying prospect of all.

Not your typical zombie novel, Revival Road is a fast-paced thrill ride of horrors human and supernatural, an exploration of the dark underbelly of suburban life, and a testament to fears elemental and otherworldly.

The only guarantee in life is death.

Except when you die on Revival Road.

The 1980s was the best decade for the horror genre. No, I'm not referring to the overload of '80s slasher films. I'm talking about the slew of horror paperback novels that took over bookstores. I didn't stumble upon these books until the mid-1990s. Yeah, I was the weird kid who always had a battered paperback in his back pocket. Instead of socializing with the world, I spent my free time reading about vampires, ghosts, and serial killers. It wasn't the stories that appealed to me the most - it was the freaky covers.  

Revival Road's cover reminds me of those books. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought the book was from the '80s horror craze. The plot also gave me those old-school '80s horror vibes. It's a zombie tale with lots of thrills and tons of gore. The characters were all interesting in their unique ways. The narration and descriptions are better than what you would find in the typical living dead yarn.  

Overall, I liked Revival Road. It's not a perfect read, but there are enough twists and turns that kept me turning the pages.

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DiLeo grew up in a house filled with books and fell in love with the written word before he even started school. That love grew even further when he penned his first story, a tale he wrote in second grade about a raindrop that is born in the clouds, lives its full life as it plummets, and dies in a watery splash on the sidewalk.

His love for the macabre comes from his father. Warren DiLeo loved Halloween, decorating the house in lavish, grand fashion, complete with gravestones, costumed mannequins, fog and strobe lights. But the centerpiece was a wooden coffin fit for Dracula. In full disguise, Warren would emerge from the coffin to delight trick-or-treaters.

During the rest of the year, that coffin stood among the bookshelves in the basement. Its contents: horror novels. Following Warren’s death, 11-year-old DiLeo began reading those novels as a way to commune with his father.

DiLeo’s love for story and language found a home in the horror tale.

He sold his first short story (a Poe-esque tale of teenage madness and murder) when he was seventeen. He wrote his first novel two years later, and he hasn’t stopped since.

DiLeo self-published the novels Hudson House, Calamity, and Blood Mountain. Bloodshot Books published The Devil Virus, Headshot Books published Dark Heart, and JournalStone published Dead End. They are all available.

DiLeo teaches high school English in New York’s Hudson Valley where he tries to inspire a love for the unquiet coffin in his students. He is also at work on his next novel.


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