Brian Rowe is one of my author picks who has self-published his series Grisly High. I read the first two books in the series Vampire Underground, and Zombie Playground. I found them both pretty entertaining but both very different from each other. I will say that if you disliked the Twilight franchise you may be into the series based off the sarcastic dialogue within the books. Both books gave off a Sam Raimi vibe, and not because one of the characters is named Ash but because of the dark humor and horror quality author Brian Rowe has managed through out both books. The characters are all well written and believable. Is it weird that while reading I got a campy Friday the 13th theme from both books? It’s not a bad thing, it’s just I kept reflecting back to when I was a kid watching a marathon of these movies, pointing out all the funny things in a movie that was supposed to scare me.
I’ll start with Vampire Underground, which is the book I favored most. It introduces us to our main characters Brin and Ash, the best friend duo that unfortunately has Ash in the forever friend zone when it comes to his crush Brin. The characters are all film junkies and have enrolled in Grisly High’s first ever film class. If you know of Brian Rowe you expect the quick-witted dialogue that usually carries the story. It’s often funny and I believe any horror film lover will identify with the humorous, Alfred Hitchcock fanatic Ash. Brin is bit harder to like only because she often complains about not being picked as the director of the film project her group as been assigned to. I just wanted her to fight a bit more with stronger ammunition that I had expected.
One major player in the Vampire Underground is the darkness factor. When the vampires are finally discovered they have this pure evil quality to them that I haven’t read in YA books before. It was a bit uncomfortable at times only because I visualize a lot when I read and my imagination may have gotten the best of me. Overall I’d say the book was entertaining and something that I would recommend to the not faint of heart.
The second book in the series is Zombie Playground. Our characters find themselves in much hotter water then before. They are still written well but just not in the same way as the first book. In Vampire Underground these characters were established as horror film lovers that made me think of Randy from the Scream movies, he new his stuff and that kept him alive…for a while. The book is titled Zombie Playground and I just figured that the characters would have figured out they were being attacked by zombies a bit earlier on. I understand that they still believed vampires were after them but I still gave them more credit.
One thing I will say is that the book had a lot of tragedy in it. The losses that occur in the story are a bit sad because of the gore detail and the way Brian Rowe laid out his scenes to conjure up emotions. I really don’t know how he manages to make you feel sad and horrified one moment then you laugh another moment at something his characters say. I’ll just say that it was an experience that I haven’t had with a book before. Plus the ending of Zombie Playground was NOT AT ALL what I was expecting…at all. I’d like to see how this series plays out because of this massive left turn.
The Grisly High series is for a particular reader who enjoys dark humor and gore, the film fanatic who goes against the typical genres and doesn’t believe that vampires sparkle, the anti-paranormal romance lover who has a wide variety of B-Horror movies and defends them faithfully. You are the audience this book was written for.