Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach
Publication: August 7th, 2018
Genre: Horror Thriller
Reddit horror sensation Dathan Auerbach delivers a devilishly dark novel about a young boy who goes missing, and the brother who won’t stop looking for him.
Eric disappeared when he was three years old. Ben looked away for only a second at the grocery store, but that was all it took. His brother was gone. Vanished right into the sticky air of the Florida Panhandle.
They say you’ve got only a couple days to find a missing person. Forty-eight hours to conduct searches, knock on doors, and talk to witnesses. Two days to tear the world apart if there’s any chance of putting yours back together. That’s your window.
That window closed five years ago, leaving Ben’s life in ruins. He still looks for his brother. Still searches, while his stepmother sits and waits and whispers for Eric, refusing to leave the house that Ben’s father can no longer afford. Now twenty and desperate for work, Ben takes a night stock job at the only place that will have him: the store that blinked Eric out of existence.
Ben can feel that there’s something wrong there. With the people. With his boss. With the graffitied baler that shudders and moans and beckons. There’s something wrong with the air itself. He knows he’s in the right place now. That the store has much to tell him. So he keeps searching. Keeps looking for his baby brother, while missing the most important message of all.
That he should have stopped looking.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in an exchange for an honest review.
If anything involving kids doesn’t sit well with you then I don’t recommend this. I hate anything that happens to kids but I love shows like Criminal Minds and thrillers/horror stories. This plot was so twisted and literally left me speechless until the very end. This was really one of those books that I had no idea what was happening or who was to blame. Usually, sometimes I get an inkling but guys you will not be ready for this ending. I am still reeling over the way this ended. This story follows Ben as he searches for clue after clue to find his baby brother. Ben and Eric have to go to the town grocery store. While they are there they do what brothers do, bicker and banter. When Eric has to use the restroom Ben gets a little annoyed because he JUST asked Eric if had to go. Getting out of line a man says he will take Eric and ok that is weird. Ben takes his brother but while in the bathroom Eric drops his toy into the toilet. As Ben is cleaning it he turns away for a moment. When he turns back…Eric is gone. Ben searches all over the store and the search parties are a blur. Five years later Ben is 20 and about to work at the store where Ben went missing. His relationship with his dad and stepmom is strained and he doesn’t have any friends. The police department deputy is of no help and Ben doesn’t know what to do in life. As he starts working there news of Eric shows up and Ben sets out on a mission to find his brother once and for all no matter what. He is not sure who to trust and everything seems so strange but he knows the answers to his brother’s abduction is somewhere in that store. This truly had me on edge. I had to put the book down a few times because my heart was pounding too hard. This plot was so good and again that ending still has me shaken up.
The writing was so intricate and detailed. The author put in the perfect amount of twists and turns to keep you on a guessing wheel. Just when you think you solved it the author throws you for a spin. This is not a light and fluffy read. It will keep you on edge and maybe make you uncomfortable sometimes. My only complaint is the book should have been a bit shorter. I think at the 70% point I was ready to end the book. It got a little too wordy and explanationy for me. It was like ok just tell us who did it. Then it picked up when we finally found out what happened. That would be the only thing that I would say this needed to make it five stars because it felt like it was dragging and losing the momentum.
Ben is an overweight 20-year-old young man struggling with what happened at 15. He is a loner and doesn’t like himself at all. He struggles with identity and so many things make him question himself/his brain. He really loves his little brother and he never gives up until the very end. He was a really interesting character to read about. He is pretty tough and will go to great lengths to solve the disappearance of Eric. I also liked Marty. He was a bit of a mystery. He was hilarious and he became one of Ben’s only friends. Sometimes you question him but really you do that with every single character in this book. He is determined to help Ben find his brother and he does a lot to do help him. The whole cast was really good and everyone played their part well. I didn’t know who to trust and who was the main antagonist. When all is clear you will never have seen it coming.
For the parents, perhaps more disconcerting than the boy’s story was the fact that he wasn’t bothered by theirs. But young boys are hard to bother. They’re immortal by their own measure.
Once upon a tuh-time, there wuh-was a bad man.
He didn’t ssstart out all the way buh-bad. It stuh-started in his head. He thought bad things.
It seemed to tremble, but that wasn’t quite right, was it? No, there was a rhythm. Ben could feel it in the tickling wisps of hateful air that spilled past his lips. Soundless words that Ben didn’t need to hear to understand. “Itsmeitsmeitsme.”
And that’s what hope really is, after all. An anesthetic. Something that takes the sharp edges of reality out of focus just enough that we can keep looking at it, keep moving forward with steps that are guided by the assurance that every inch of ground can’t possibly be covered in broken glass. And then when it is—when your feet are left as coiled ribbons of wet skin—you forget what guided you there in the first place. It’s a kind of sneaky narcotic, one produced by thoughts and words and refined by time. It doesn’t fix anything. It just numbs and reassures, until it can consume the desperate for the sake of its own brilliant incandescence. And as hope comforts us, it becomes easier and easier to forget that it too was in the jar that Pandora carried. It’s the one horror of the world that wasn’t loosed when she opened the lid. It’s the one horror that lives in us.
A cruel, laughing void. An echo chamber where the devil once spoke.