Burn the Negative

Books on Tape. Jul. 2023. 10:06 hrs. ISBN 9780593741900. $85. HORROR
Winning’s (The Shadow Glass) supernatural whodunit is a self-referential journey through a multitude of ’90s horror tropes. The Guesthouse was child actress Polly Tremaine’s last—and only—horror movie. When the film, which was rumored to be cursed, achieved cult status, Polly changed her name to Laura Warren, became a journalist, and put the movie and Hollywood behind her. Years later, after many of her former costars have fallen victim to the movie’s supposed curse, Laura returns to Hollywood to interview those reimagining The Guesthouse, but the curse and the film’s sinister Needle Man are not done with her. This story is a fun and fiendish ride of breakneck plot twists and spooky ambiance that even delivers some jabs at the Hollywood remake machine. Narrator Stephanie Cannon helps keep the book’s balance between scares and satire with her raspy yet sinister Needle Man whisper and depictions of vapid Hollywood archetypes.
VERDICT One doesn’t need a Needle Man to poke holes in the plot, but Winning has created an immersive love letter to late-20th-century horror cinema that will draw fans of supernatural slashers like flies to corpses.
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