Short Take: “Food Fright,” Nico Bell

Rating: 3 out of 5

Nico Bell’s novella Food Fright (Rewind or Die) is a humor/horror cross-genre work. It didn’t live up to my two favorite blends of humor and horror (The Roo [review] and Playing Possum [review]). In those books, you could still very much get the horror, whereas in this book, the humor was so silly and over-the-top that any horror was rendered null and void. If that floats your boat, obviously you’ll get more mileage out of this book than I did.

The year is 1995 (hey, a “classic” horror story not set in the 80s!). Cassie Adler, perennial outcast and high school soccer player, wants the popular girls on the team to like her. So she goes along with convincing Jennifer, the new girl, to come to an “initiation.” When the hazing goes horrifically wrong (this is the last thing that I found genuinely horrifying about the story), Jennifer ends up dead. She returns for revenge, but since she died in the home ec classroom–which was largely used for cooking–she seems limited to food-themed acts. There’s a giant attack croissant. A brownie monster. A cotton candy tornado (cherry-flavored). The town witches try to set Jennifer to rest, but without much luck. (Of course, it’s their fault everything went so badly in the first place.) Will Cassie and her best friend Jamie survive Jennifer’s hunger for revenge?

Jamie is pretty much the only character in here that I liked. She genuinely listens to and cares for Cassie, and she believes her. She’s willing to help Cassie try to set Jennifer to rest no matter how dangerous things get. I was also fond of the home ec teacher, Emily, and her friend Audrey, who seem to be the only reasonable witches in town. It was Emily’s screwup that led to Jennifer’s death, and she’s trying her best to fix things. She also doesn’t want to look bad in front of the high priestess, who arbitrates whether she gets to join the coven or not.

If you like your humor to be seriously silly, go for it. Unfortunately, for me, it rendered everything after that first death completely un-horrifying.

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