Ali Seay - Go Down Hard
There is something very sexy about seeing two people trying to kill each other, a hypnotic dance that is almost impossible to ignore, perhaps because it is in our nature to be thrilled by that unashamed abandon in spectating – in revelling in the gore and pure brutality of it all. It is an unspoken hunger that is fulfilled in this story, and we watch as a pack, thrilling at the story’s relentlessness. It’s magnificent.
Ali Seay is on the top of her game in her debut novel under her real name. The author has made distinct choices to the presentation of the book, which are all great craft touches. The chapters are kept short and character POV orientated – a lesson lifted from the pages of any James Patterson book (like or dislike him, it IS a signature standard) from the last century. Added to that, as the action mounts and the tension builds, Seay changes the sentence structure, tightening her sentences down, shortening the length to force the reader’s breathing to quicken, to keep the heart rate up. The effect is deliberate, enforced tension, and the result is exhilarating. It’s beautifully done, but I am on-to-you, Ali. My beady eye sees all.
The two protagonists in the book, Meg and Jack, are lovingly rendered. Though the MC of the book is, without a doubt, the rape rage motivated Meg, due diligence is given to her co-star in this battle of the roses, with Jack’s personality shining through as well. We are given different perspectives to the two characters and empathize with the plight of Meg, and how her past has hardened her into what she has become, nurtured into a killing machine by horrific abuse as a child. In comparison, we watch with fascinated objectivity, Jack, a born killer, remote from his own feelings, lost in his own lack of humanity, killing for the simple want to feel something, his joy from the screams of his victims his only empowerment – that absolute lack of emotion is as captivating as its opposite, as we watch, horrified, yet also cheering him on. There are touches of Reacher about him, I couldn’t avoid that comparison, but there’s a total lack of moral compass. The clash between Jack and Meg is the battle of Nature vs Nurture. It’s pure horror popcorn.
This is an important book for many reasons, with a strong female MC fighting back against a strong male MC. What makes this different from the run of the mill horror “female fights off male killer” novels, is that we start off on equal footing. This is not a female MC that stumbles upon a killer and fights for her right to live, to survive, making it just another survival tale. On the contrary, our MC is actively stalking. And though the two meet by happenstance, Meg decides, fully aware, to hunt the killer on his own terms.
Seay has taken the core theme of Rape “Survivors” to heart. The MC refuses to recognize herself as a “victim”, to acknowledge that unspoken power – the fact that she has been raped is the single time she has had men take anything from her (and let me be very clear here, I did not use the wording “let men take anything from her”). She refuses to think of her ordeal in her own mind as being something to which she is a victim, or to which she allowed to happen. Not one more second of her life is to be dedicated to acknowledging that a man had “power” over her, instead, she decides to hunt men with the same lusts, to kill them before they destroy other, less confident women’s lives, to take that ordeal and turn that experience into something to actively eliminate. And that’s gold. That’s a key concept here, reflected in the fight. To clarify, this book is not a woman surviving a killer. This is a killer of rapists. And most importantly, it’s a female killer. Though Jack is not a rapist, the theme here is men’s constant lust of power over women, in whatever form that takes. Rightly, that lust cannot be allowed air-time – and Seay is brutal in her punishment of it. Meg gives out far more than Jack could ever imagine.
Good for her. And good for the world.
We are lucky enough to be living in a time where there is a massive surge of Female/transgender horror writers adding their voices to the horror chorus, each with their own distinct voice. Ali Seay has written a wonderful debut novel that is as modern as it gets – and she is justifiably up for recommendation for the 2020 Bram Stoker Awards. She certainly gets mine.
Can’t wait to discover more from her.