May 13, 2020

Dark Ride: A Book Review

Today we're visiting an abandoned amusement park in Dark Ride: A Novel of Horror & Suspense by Ian Rob Wright.

Here's the plot from Amazon

'Bright Lights' AJ Starr is a pro wrestler on the rise, and his life is about to change forever. Knowing this, he plans one last party with all of his best friends. The venue? Saxon Hills theme park, abandoned ten years ago after its flagship ride burned down and killed nine innocent people. Some people say the place is haunted, but AJ knows from his time inside the squared circle that fantasy and reality are totally separate things.

Or so he thought.

AJ has no idea how nightmarish things are about to get, and eventually he'll be left wondering whether he brought his friends to Saxon Hills theme park to have fun. 

Or to die.

This was my first read from Wright and I enjoyed it quite a bit. In the Foreward, he explains how wrestling and the Disney parks are things he enjoys and both factor into the story to some degree. Our intro to main character AJ is an entire chapter of a wrestling match. I've never been big into wrestling but thankfully it's a short chapter.

From there, AJ meets up with his friends from high school. There's good friend Ashley who's dating physical trainer, and typical jerk, Greg, wheelchair bound Ben, his sister Tasha, and single friend Samantha. They all hop into a van with some booze to spend the night in an remote, abandoned amusement park for one last night of fun before AJ leaves town. If that setup doesn't sound like an 80s horror movie, I don't know what does!

They get to the park around the 25% mark and there's a lot of relationship drama for the next 25% which was really reminding me of a Friday the 13th movie. Then they start exploring the ride: Frenzy. That's when things start getting weird.

This fictional ride is based around the Germanic god Woden but the whole time I could picture nothing but Epcot's Maelstrom (now home to Frozen Ever After). I think if you've ever been on it, it'll easily jump to mind.

As someone that's been to the Disney parks quite a bit, venturing into a shutdown attraction is both intriguing and creepy to me. I often think how weird it is to be in such a large enclosed space (if that makes sense), add to that navigating by flashlight, the eerie quiet, and creepy animatronic figures and even I'd be a little spooked!

The book is 230 pages and it's a brisk read despite spending the first half hanging out with the characters and seeing them interact like friends do. Once they get into the ride and the horror begins, it goes even quicker. If you're looking for something that reads like an 80s horror movie, I'd definitely recommend Dark Ride!

Through the Kindle app, I can loan the book out for 2 weeks so if you want to check it out, let me know.

Rating: 3.5/5

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