What if Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers were real? What would happen if year after year, groups of people are slaughtered by a masked serial killer who is reincarnated just to inflict more death and mayhem? How would society handle an unstoppable, unkillable serial killer? In Reincarnage, authors Ryan Harding and Jason Taverner seek to answer those questions and more… and holy shit do they deliver.
In the 1980s, Agent Orange, a former Vietnam veteran unleashes a torrent of murder in a small town in middle America. Year after year, Agent Orange is killed by survivors, thrill seekers, and even the government, yet still, he returns. The US government decides to take action after years of being unable to stop him by building a fortress surrounding the town, lake, and woods that formed his hunting grounds. In hopes to contain him, Agent Orange’s bloodlust provides enough power for him to break through the barriers and continue his killing spree on the surrounding populace.
In order to appease this insatiable lust for death, the government, or perhaps a sect working outside the laws of the government, has been supplying Agent Orange with fresh groups of people in order to keep him contained within his habitat. A group of random people will have to band together in order to outsmart the killer in an attempt to beat him at his own game.
Reincarnage is a batshit crazy, high concept meta-story that knowingly uses any and all tropes within slasher/horror movies, books, and even video games. Far more than just an homage, this is one of the best slasher stories ever produced, in any medium. By embracing all that has come before it, Harding and Taverner are able to elevate the slasher narrative to places it has never gone, at least not cinematically. The plot is simple, albeit clever as hell, the action is impossibly frequent, and the violence is on an entirely separate level. If anything, this book should embarrass the hell out of all the studios that find it difficult to make the next sequel to Friday the 13th or Halloween. It is right here! Better than most of the sequels from those franchises!
The biggest takeaway from this book is the pacing. Reincarnage features multiple chapters that are entirely devoted to the struggle for survival. Several big moments throughout the story are huge sequences of brutal violence as people fight back against the impending death known as Agent Orange. Each struggle is pulse-pounding, pulling from the depths of your arteries just to make you squirm.
That’s not saying that there is no story or character development, the book has plenty. Dialogue regarding speculation and existing knowledge take place between siege sequences, chase scenes, fights, you name it. Not every idea is fully explored, which may be a problem for some readers, but there are little moments of affirmation that at least acknowledge the bigger questions that are brought up.
Enough about this book, just go buy the damn thing. Every horror fan needs this in their collection as this is seriously one of the greatest slasher stories ever told. I am kicking myself for not having read this sooner as this would easily have been in the top five on my list of best books from 2015.