This is an epic horror novel from the breakout author of the Troop. Little Heaven follows three contract killers in the sixties who come together through strange circumstances to try and rescue a boy from a religious cult in the woods. The ancient evil they discover there will change their lives forever.
Little Heaven jumps between the 1960s and 1985, fifteen years after the mercenaries first visit Little Heaven (the name of the cult). Micah, a veteran of the Korean war with ice for blood, asks the other mercanaries for help after his daughter is kidnapped by a strange flute-playing creature. He has no doubt the creature is leading them back to the evil they encountered fifteen years earlier.
Little Heaven is a fun book at 496 pages. I didn’t find the scares all that frightening, but Nick Cutter’s skill at writing graphic gore definitely stands out. I don’t think any author today writes gore better than Cutter. He’s got a definite knack for it. Besides the gore, Cutter’s prose is quite good. He’s very skilled and has a talent for visual description.
The characters are interesting, I liked them all quite a bit from the get go. Micah’s described as ‘cool in the cut’ meaning he never panics in a gunfight. Then there’s the Englishman who’s all refined culture unless he’s trying to kill you. Eb the Englishman is a sharpshooter who almost never misses. Minerva aka “Minny” is new to contract killing but she’s desperate to prove herself. All of these characters have rich back stories that made them sympathetic. In particular, Minny’s backstory is quite horrifying.
Even cult leader Reverend Amos Flesher has a detailed, if disturbing, backstory. The novel has a lot of backstory, flashbacks, and jumping between time periods. Reading reviews on goodreads, I think that turned some people off. For myself, the hearty backstories made the book better and the characters more interesting.
Structurally, Little Heaven reminds me a lot of IT by Stephen King. Except instead of two parts, Cutter chops up past and present, weaving them together into one cohesive tale. Think IT meets Jonestown and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from Little Heaven.
I definitely enjoyed Little Heaven but it’s not the most original idea out there. I’ve read about evil beings and cults before, and while Cutter gave the monsters his own twist, it doesn’t read all that fresh. I’m reminded of innumerable other monsters and stories from the Pied Piper to the iconic shapeshifter in IT. The characters definitely shine the brightest, they’re all likable and interesting. I actually found the action elements in this novel stood out more than the horror.
Overall, Little Heaven is a fun read and I definitely enjoyed it. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy, grimdark, and epic horror.