Wasp in the Ice Cream - by Tim McGregor
Man, I love coming-of-age horror. You just know within a couple of pages that you are in for a journey, and you are going to feel everything, every damn pebble under the tires - all the emotions. Case in point, Tim McGregor’s Wasps in the ice cream. Tim must have had a blueprint of all the right buttons to press for this reviewer. Wasps is astonishing. It satisfies on so many levels, that I never wanted to leave. It’s that good. But let’s not just gush, let’s take this all apart and really gush.
Coming-of-age implies all of the myriad emotions a young boy or girl can go through in order to reach adulthood. That horror can also be real-life tragedy, small-town vindictiveness, mental instability, underlying guilt, and social awkwardness – it’s pulling the heartstrings and laying your soul bare. It’s a subtle creeping heart-stabbing horror, and when you add a dash of paranormal or supernatural to that mix – well – you get genius. When elements come together like that, you get works like Children of Darkness, or Wormwood, It, and wasps -well, it just made a place at the table.
I don’t want to ruin any of this wonderful novel’s secrets, or charm. You just need to know that going in, you are going to be crushed. There’s so much heart bleeding in this novel, it’s worth a second read in an attempt to prolong the happiness and grief. To share those wonderful, heart-stopping, awkward, soul-destroying moments McGregor lays bare to the world.
To quote Tim himself, it’s fucking glorious.
The punch to the gut at the end is beautifully timed, well crafted, under your skin. The characters are real, living, and beautiful. Even the villains are humanized, you can sympathize with them – it’s all a matter of perspective and upbringing. The downtrodden get kicked again and again and you die a little bit more when it happens. We live in their moments of glory, we hold onto their pain because, frankly, we crave to feel it all before it’s all over. And it’s all over way, way too quickly and the bubble you are in holds you in such a thrall, that writing this, summarizing how I felt, how I still feel – just brings it all back and makes me want to pick the book up again.
I got lucky. I got to read this now. With the dissolution of Silver Shamrock, Wasps is hanging in the ether – waiting for the right publishing house to step up to the bat, and believe me, this is a gem. This is the gold standard. Tim was gracious in sending me an ARC to read – I had pre-ordered the novel before SS went down with all hands on board, and I cannot explain how gutted I felt – I’m going to claim superpowers here and state I just knew Wasps was going to be something special. I just knew it.
When Tim kindly offered to relieve my suffering with an eBook – well, I’m not going to say I nearly bit his hand off, but I sure as hell didn’t say “no”. Those that know me, know that I almost never buy paperbacks. That comes from my love of the climate – reducing postage, reducing paper use, it’s all co2 emission reduction. Anything I can do to help reduce that damn thing, I do. But I have to go on record here to say that whoever gets this wonderful, devastating, sublime book published, is going to get my money for the paperback. Because then I can give it to my daughter, and my wife, and watch as George and Mark and his friends destroy their lives too.
And then we can all be blissfully miserable and heartbroken and hopeful together.
Outstanding, Tim. In the top 3 of the books I have read this year (47 books so far). Easily.
5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s. I’d give it 6 if I could. You all need to read this now. Find a way.
Can't wait for "Lure" (out in July from Tenebrous Press).
It kills me to write this, but Wasps is presently out of print, as soon as it is published, I'll provide links here.
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