Book review: The Cage – Brian Keene

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This is a new thing I’m doing. It’s called TBR Tuesday, where every couple of weeks I aim to make a random selection from my TBR pile. This week saw The Cage by Brian Keene selected.

The Cage is actually a small short story collection from Keene. The Cage is a novella length piece and is by far the best story on offer. I didn’t care too much for the accompanying shorts, they fell a little flat for me and had a very unfinished feel to them, but others may think they are wonderful. Anyway,  I’m not going to waste your reading time by yapping on about them.

Whilst The Cage isn’t my favourite of Keene’s works, it still stands up well as a piece of violent, gruesome horror fiction and is much more than solid story. Before I started this, I knew nothing about it, looking at the cover art led me to believe that it was going to be a torture-porn story. However, I was so very wrong.

The scene is set quickly as a man enters an electrical store, brutally slays a couple of staff members and then locks the remainder of them up in a cage that houses some of the stores more expensive equipment. The stage is set for some extreme torture but Keene doesn’t roll that way. As the remaining staff are taken back out onto the shop floor one-by-one, the reader is left scratching his/her head. Keene gives nothing away as to what is happening out front, he lets the reader’s imagination do that and as a result the tension builds quickly. It proves a masterstroke and makes the ending of The Cage even more harrowing when we do find out what is happening out front. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at the strange direction the story takes.

The characters are pretty well drawn for a novella. When the staff become locked inside the cage, we get to know a bit more about them, their current life situations and their personalities. Ultimately, they are just a group of average guys, totally unprepared for what occurs that day and we do become invested in their (brief) futures. It helps make the ending much more uncomfortable and it is one that will stick with you.

Overall, I quite enjoyed The Cage. It’s no Earthworm Gods or Dark Hollow, two of my favourite Keene books, but it is a brutal story where ordinary people are thrust into a situation that is anything but.

3.5/5 whitegoods from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from here.

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