Review by Brennan LaFaro
Beyond the Creek marks Nico Bell’s second foray into novella-length territory, the first being Food Fright. While this new release may not feature any croissant monsters, it’s every bit as entertaining.
Bell leads with a more serious tone this time around, dropping the reader directly into Alex’s life. On the run from an abusive past, Alex cons her way into a job taking care of an elderly stroke victim. This is horror, so of course, the people and the house contain more than a few creeps and questions. The opening third of the book contains hints of gothic horror, and while it’s entertaining to see Bell exploring something different, it’s around the halfway mark that Bell shines.
Yeah, that’s when things go off the rails. Bell proved her mettle with Food Fright at dealing with what I’ll call “controlled explosions”, a little bit of controlled chaos. Things go in a very unexpected direction, and they do so at a rapid clip, but without giving the reader whiplash or making them roll their eyes. The wild imagery on display draws from the subgenre of body horror. It drives the story while the relationship between Alex and Callie roots the reader and allows that suspension of disbelief.
With a pitch perfect ending that will leave the reader smiling, Beyond the Creek mixes heavy themes of family, legacy, and relationships, but Bell never forgets to have fun.