I’ve read two other books by J.R. Curtis. I don’t remember much about Satanico. Bloodletting was pretty good and introduced me to a subgenre of horror that I didn’t know I needed in my life, horror westerns. And now I’ve read They Take Your Skin. I have owned the kindle version for a while, but when the author offered Audible codes in exchange for honest reviews, I moved it up to the top of my TBR.
Before I get into my thoughts about the book, let’s talk about the Audible narration. Curtis tends to take his time setting up his stories. He is meticulous with his world building and while it can feel slow, it pays off when everything falls into place and all the action happens and you find yourself sucked into that world. Some narrators, like the man who narrated Bloodletting (John Gladden), are well suited to this descriptive style of storytelling. It’s a style that is difficult to get right, and unfortunately the narration of They Take Your Skin fell short for me. Sherry L. Neiman is a narrator I haven’t come across before, and while I did listen to the entire audiobook, I had to speed it up considerably to make it palatable. Her reading is painfully slow, lacking rhythm, and there were some pronunciation issues, particularly her pronunciation of one of the main character’s names (Guzman). I don’t expect perfect pronunciation of Spanish language names, but putting emphasis on the correct syllable goes a long way to looking like you made the effort.
That said, They Take Your Skin is the best J.R. Curtis book I’ve read yet. He recently released a new one that I haven’t read yet, but right now, this is my favorite thing he’s written. Since the big bads in this book are aliens, I’d classify this one as a sci-fi horror. This story takes place in a small mining town and follows the usual small town cast of characters. There’s the sheriff who is a little too big for his britches and the deputy who follows him blindly. There’s the troubled teen with the alcoholic father and the teacher who tries to reach him. There’s the old man who isn’t taken seriously until it’s too late. There’s the visitors who become instrumental in defeating the town’s dark secret. And of course, there’s the dark secret. In this case, the town isn’t hiding anything as they are unaware of what is lurking deep underground, and I feel like that makes this story unique. The descriptions of the aliens peeling the skins off their victims and then wearing those skins are visceral enough to make a person flinch but not in a gratuitous way. One character calls them peelers and the name catches on. There’s an old horror movie vibe (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers) about this book that I find really appealing.
Get it? A-PEELing? I crack myself up.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. If I have one complaint, it’s that it can be a bit wordy. Verbosity can become tedious if you’re not careful. It’s one of the reasons I just can’t get into Stephen King. Other than that I really enjoyed this book. I think it would make a great movie. Not sure I’d listen to this narrator again, but I will read more Curtis.
Big thanks to J. R. Curtis for providing an audio ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy They Take Your Skin, by J. R. Curtis on Amazon for a couple bucks or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.