After the sun would go down, I’d hear them out there, back by the shed, shrieking their twisted warbling cries out there in the night, followed by squeals of whatever prey they’d managed to hunt down.
When his rural farm becomes overrun with terrifying beasts called Warblers capable of eating livestock, dogs, and even people, 14-year-old Dell McDale’s life is torn asunder. He watches through the eyes of a boy on the verge of becoming a man as his father is forced to go to awful lengths to rid the family home of the infestation, culminating in a confrontation between Dell and a local bully-turned-soldier on a night that will change everyone involved, forever.
The Warblers is a mysterious tale of a young man learning what fear can do to people and what happens, when in order to fight monsters, one must side with another monster.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
THE WARBLERS (Eraserhead Press, 2017) by Amber Fallon is a novella that surprised me. After reading her novella, THE TERMINAL (Flesh Pulp Press, 2016), I thought I knew what to expect (horror, lots of action-filled horror), but with THE WARBLERS, Fallon takes a different approach.
“Don’t be a fool, boy. Graveyard’s full up fools.”
The story is a coming-of-age yarn from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy named, Dell. Dell’s family’s farm is in danger from a group of vicious birds (the Warblers) that have taken up residence behind their shed. Dell’s pa decides to call for a “special” kind of help to eradicate the problem. That’s the gist of the tale, but within, there are so many nice bits and beats.
“I thought of the horses in front of my uncle’s carriage and how they had looked on smelling the warblers. I imagine we must’ve looked about the same way.”
I recently read THE BOTTOMS by Joe R. Lansdale, and I picked up a very similar vibe from Fallon’s story. That’s a fantastic compliment to the author. I was impressed with her style, her patience, and her ability to put together such a well-rounded story, full of characters and heart.
As with the aforementioned Lansdale book, THE WARBLERS isn’t really a horror story, and that’s okay. It’s a great piece of fiction, a wonderfully surprising novella that shows Fallon’s fearless versatility.
I would liked to have seen more of the viscous birds, but I know we can’t always get what we want. Oh, and the handler’s (you’ll know who I’m talking about when you read this book) were totally worthy of more book time, too. See, sometimes the problem is that author creates so much goodness, we want more. That’s a good thing.
I give THE WARBLERS 4-4.5 stars.
Definitely recommend this one to people who like great storytelling.
Amber Fallon lives in a small town outside Boston, Massachusetts that she shares with her husband their two dogs. A techie by day and a horror writer by night, she’s also spent time as a bank manager, motivational speaker, produce wrangler, and apprentice butcher. Her obsessions with sushi, glittery nail polish, and sharp objects have made her a recognized figure around the community.
She’s the author of The Terminal (Flesh Pulp Press, 2016), the forthcoming collection, TV Dinners From Hell, and many other stories that have appeared in a variety of anthologies.
Follow her on Twitter: @Zombiegirl
Visit her blog: http://www.amberfallon.net
or listen to her podcast IT COOKS on Project Radio