Brood X by Joshua Dysart

details
Title: Brood X.
Writer(s): Joshua Dysart.
Illustrator(s): M.K. Perker.
Publisher: TKO Studios
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: May 3rd, 2022.
Pages: 109.
Genre(s): Horror.
ISBN13: 9781952203282.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

thoughts

Life has a way of challenging each and every one of us, pushing us to a breaking point and daring us to do the unimaginable. Countless individuals have gotten through such moments in their lives, some carrying with them a burden, regret born from things done or said, while others embrace it, sailing into a life without remorse or care. And that’s when you realize that the person sitting in front of you might have witnessed or done things in their lives that you could never imagine. But once their world collides with yours, there is an opportunity that arises, one that will either allow these people to live beyond their past or to destroy anyone who crosses their path. Written by Eisner-nominated writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, Harbinger) with a couple of artistic vignettes by artist M.K. Perker, this murder mystery over at TKO Rogue offers an intriguing social critique amidst all the strange deaths and buzzing cicadas.

What is Brood X about? Set during the Red Scare in the United States of America, as fear of nuclear war suffocates the reality of countless citizens of the nation, the story follows a group of seven laborers gathered together in an isolated region during the insane heat of an Indiana summer to build a bomb shelter. Carrying upon their shoulders the burden of their past sins, these curious figures are witnesses to a series of increasingly unlikely accidental deaths on-site that raises questions regarding the circumstances leading to these fatalities and the possibilities of a mastermind behind it all. Meanwhile, an infamous cicada swarm increases the tension and oddity of these incidents, sending everyone on the edge of insanity.

“We ride our own actions until some surprise outcome throws us. We answer as many questions and curiosities as we can about the universe before the questioning gets the better of us. The trick was to enjoy the fall, and he certainly had.”

— Joshua Dysart

It’s hard not to notice the similar narrative structure as the iconic masterpiece And Then There Were None utilized this time around in a not-so-secluded location with the addition of a gruesome swarm of cicadas to get on everyone’s nerves. While Agatha Christie’s classic is difficult to top or reinvent, writer Joshua Dysart does achieve a somewhat entertaining take on the novel by inviting readers to discover this peculiar group of laborers who all have something to hide. While most of these characters are forgettable, their limited banter does quickly establish the numerous stereotypes and prejudices that they hold close to their hearts, their motives, and their reason for taking on such an odd job in the middle of nowhere. As the story progresses and they advance in their construction, it becomes much more clear that everyone and anyone could snap and do something senseless.

While you’d expect cicadas to be a major horror component of the story, their presence was mostly atmospheric in nature with superficial metaphoric ties to the story. There are some disgusting scenes including them but they never really seemed like a quintessential element to the narrative. The pacing of the story is also constant but the shortness of the novella played to the author’s favour, in the end, making it inconsequential to the reading experience as you move forward in the story and discover each weird death happening until the grand finale. It’s difficult to imagine a proper ending to this story that could allow it to break free from clichés but writer Joshua Dysart does a decent job in giving us an ending with a bit of social commentary to ponder upon. The couple of illustrations by M.K. Perker are fine, effortlessly portraying scenes for the reader to easily imagine them but were far too few to truly affect the story.

Brood X is a captivating novella following a group of individuals with sketchy pasts that expose their alienated selves within a world on the verge of self-destruction.


EXHIBITA
Thank you MediaLab PR for this review copy.

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19 thoughts on “Brood X by Joshua Dysart

  1. How come we never get stories about how the soviet people were scared and getting killed for their sins? Any time I can remember a story about the USSR it is always showing how brave and wonderful the people are, blah, blah, blah. / end rant

    I know that fear is part of humanity, but it seems like that is capitalized on too much as a plot point. And in real life. Communism. Nuclear war. Jihad (post 9/11). Covid. And it isn’t even the “being afraid” part, but that so many people allow that fear to drive their actions. I realize this comment has gone off the path for the review itself, but your sentence about McCarthyism and nuclear fallouts made me think of it, and “fear” is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last 2 years.

    And I’m going to just let that thought go, otherwise I’ll spend the next hour ranting and raving and blabbing. And your poor little review doesn’t deserve that 😀 But you can probably tell, there’s little chance of me reading this book. Horror has to be very niche for me to go into it (cosmic horror nowadays and strictly vampires as badguys before that).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s definitely such an easy and powerful premise to work with though, especially when the story is supposed to be flirting with the horror genre. It is indeed rare to read about the other camp but I imagine we’d have more success finding those stories among Russian writers. I just know it’s an easy sell to talk about that Red Scare for a mainly American audience. It probably would sell so much less to talk about courage and fearlessness in the protagonist hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to keep reminding myself this is a novella and not a comic book. 🙂 Some of the topics this tackles are certainly ones that can be crafted into engaging fiction, but overused clichés do reduce the odds.

    Liked by 1 person

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