Blackwood, Vermont has one legend to its name—Benny Rose, the Cannibal King. Every local kid knows him and tells his stories, especially on Halloween. When a new girl moves to town in the autumn of 1987, the legend inspires high school junior Desiree St. Fleur and her friends to pull a Benny Rose-themed prank. A few laughs and screams, and they’ll have a Happy Halloween.But a vicious storm crashes into Blackwood and interrupts the festivities. Soon the girls find themselves trapped and hunted in a strange neighborhood where no one will help them. There’s nothing made-up about Benny Rose this Halloween night. The truth is coming, and it’s hungry.
Title: Benny Rose, The Cannibal King | Series: Rewind or Die | Author: Hailey Piper| Publisher: Unnerving | Pub Date: 17th of January, 2020 | Pages: 162 | ISBN13: 978-1989206348 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred Review
Benny Rose, The Cannibal King Review
Desiree’s best friend is jealous of the new girl in town and wants to teach her a lesson. Halloween is just around the corner and Desiree has an idea: scary stories about the evil Benny Rose have circulated for years. Desiree and her friends can take advantage of them to give new girl Gabrielle a good scare. It seems like the perfect plan.
What Desiree doesn’t realize is that Gabrielle lives in Blackwood’s retirement community. The good news is that she has the house to herself for the weekend, which makes it an ideal place to hold a party. The bad news is that Desiree and her friends don’t know the real reason for Grandma’s trip, and neither does Gabrielle.
Sitting together with a flashlight and telling scary stories seems harmless enough. Sierra’s boyfriend, Paul, and one of his friends are waiting outside to complete the prank, but when they don’t respond to Sierra’s signals, the stories continue. Desiree shares her own frightening story from the previous Halloween, when she thought she saw the legendary Benny Rose not far from Gabrielle’s house. Her story puts her friends on edge, but it also explains why Desiree’s mother has been so overprotective for the past year.
Then Gabrielle decides to take a turn. She shares a story that fills in a bit of her personal history and leaves them all on edge.
After that, Desiree wants to call off the prank. The problem is that Paul is still ignoring the signals so there’s nothing she can do. When the boys do turn up they’ve changed the prank and scare everyone. Sierra is pissed, but she doesn’t have time to be annoyed for long. It seems their stories may have summoned Blackwood’s resident cannibal. Benny Rose claims his first victim and makes it clear that one isn’t enough. The rest of the kids must run for their lives, but find themselves caught between a flooding river and the retirement community where Benny Rose lives.
Who better to take on a cannibal than a group of teenage girls? The cruelty of girls that age is evident from the start, but Hailey Piper doesn’t give us stereotypes. Desiree is conflicted. She cares. She’s also smarting from personal problems at home. All of these things factor into her decisions, and her ability to take charge when events spiral out of control. Her resourcefulness gives her and her friends a fighting chance, but it turns out that Benny Rose isn’t the only evil that they have to fear in Blackwood. The author does a great job of building the tension in the story. No matter how cruel the girls seem at times, you’re also rooting for them. There are plenty of revelations along the way and the story keeps you hooked to the very last page, waiting to see who comes out on top. From start to finish, Piper’s talent impresses. Her characters feel real and the story twists and turns relentlessly.
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CONTENT WARNING: [spoilers]child death[/spoiler]