Publisher’s Comments: A self-hating Eighteen year-old moves into a sterile California suburb and her life becomes a lung-filling nightmare as she comes under the control of something very evil met at the community pool. Mandy Helger has not fit in anywhere her entire life. At eighteen, she is an innocentfloundering in the brutal social environment of the upscale Southern California world she is trapped in. When she moves with her family to a new home for her senior year, she makes a decision to take drastic actions in order to fit in. In an attempt to lose weight and be accepted by her attractive peers Mandy begins swimming at a mysteriously unused community pool. It is there at the pool day after day that Mandy learns the pool’s dark past and becomes the handmaid of its unspeakably evil resident.
Hello Ghoul and Boils,
Today we are happy to present Assistant Editor Marc Nocerino’s thought on what seems to be a very interesting book. When I read about Wet Linda I really wanted to keep it for myself… alas, my personal book pile is ridiculous. Marc’s review makes me regret that decission. But I will just let him tell you. And as always – Enjoy, my fiends.
Sarah L. Covert
I can’t swim. There, the secret is out. So when I started reading Wet Linda, by Paul Parducci, my indescribably terrifying phobia of drowning grabbed me by the amygdalae and shook me like a red-headed stepchild.
The book starts out by introducing us to Mandy, a chubby teenage girl in Southern California — the land of perfectly sculpted bodies and flawless tans. Parducci does an excellent job of developing Mandy’s character; insecure, depressed, a little horny, and just desperately wanting to fit in. Now don’t get me wrong, this is no YA love story about teenage angst and sparkly vampires. This book is dark and violent, and many of the scenes are disturbing to read.
This novel shows just how effective horror can be when it is primarily character-driven. Parducci writes his characters very well, making it easy for the reader to empathize with the “good guys” and hate the “bad guys” with visceral reactions. This is not to say that the lines of good and evil are clearly drawn, though. Parducci leaves just enough of a gray area that I felt horrible when one of the “villains” of the story came to a gut-wrenching end. Not only was this person murdered; she first was drugged, date-raped, and completely humiliated. Normally, it should feel good to see a villain toppled so ruthlessly, but the writing and characterization are so multi-dimensional and believable that I couldn’t help but feel bad for her, even though she had been a despicable shit-heel throughout the story.
Parducci shows off his skill not only as a character writer, but also as a fantastic scene writer. There is plenty of brutal violence in this book for those who like splatter-punk, but there is also lots of suspense and a heavy supernatural element for those who enjoy the more traditional aspects of a horror tale.
I do have three major complaints with this book, though, and they are pretty big.
First is that Wet Linda seems to be suffering from a lack of identity. Is it a ghost story? Is it a demonic possession story? Is it a legitimate revenge story or just horror-porn? It was disheartening to see such a lack of cohesion in the plot and storyline, especially since there is so much depth of characterization.
Secondly, despite the excellent characterization throughout, one of the main “good guys” isn’t even introduced until we’re over 2/3 of the way into the book. And this character, a priest who used to be in the military, is the only one who comes across as one-dimensional and unbelievable to me. He is the only character who, from his introduction through to his last scene, had me thinking “this guy was written solely to drive the plot forward.” Acceptable in a minor character, but totally disappointing in a major character. Some of the red-shirts, and even “Wet Linda” herself, had more pathos.
The biggest let-down for me, though, was the ending. It felt rushed and chaotic, and even went so far as to kill a major character “off-screen,” so to speak, which is something I always find devastatingly crushing to a story.
Wet Linda started strong, but failed to maintain that through to the ending. It felt a little confused as to what kind of story it wanted to be, and the off-screen death of a major character was a huge let-down. Still, the pacing was solid throughout and Parducci’s ability to write (mostly) believable characters and get the reader to invest in them emotionally is impressive. Add the fact that Wet Linda is his debut novel, and the whole package becomes even more impressive. I really expected this to be a 5 tentacle review up until the last couple of chapters, but sadly the ending left me so disheartened that it colored the overall experience for me. But I would be lying if I said that I don’t have high hopes for Paul Parducci’s next novel.
I give Wet Linda a soggy 4 out of 5 tentacles.
Marc Nocerino; Assistant Editor (Columinst,Reviewer)