After becoming the suspect in the death of a young woman he was investigating, Deputy Sam Hardy is “vanished” to a town in the middle of the desert called Angels and Hope. A company town built to support a magnificent amusement park (one to rival Disneyland) known as Captain Clive’s Dreamworld. When he arrives in Angels and Hope, Hardy begins to notice some strange happenings. Virtually no customers ever visit. None of the townsfolk ever seem to sleep. And girls seem to be going missing with no plausible explanation. As Hardy begins investigating, his own past is drawn into question by the town, and he finds himself becoming more and more isolated. The truth—about the town and himself—will lead him to understand that there’s no such thing as a clean escape.
Captain Clive’s Dreamworld is bizarro horror at its most imaginative. Imagine Disneyworld on crack and you’ll be getting close to what Dreamworld and the town of Angels and Hope offers. It gives off that small-town mentality – that everyone knows you and your business. As an incomer to places like these, you had better be squeaky clean before you start throwing stones at glasshouses. There are secrets buried in this town and the resident’s blind following of Captain Clive isn’t admirable it is damn occultist. This story was so weird but addictive, my eyes flew through the pages and prepared me for the moment my brain melted into a puddle.
Deputy Hardy is a morally grey character. He’s had a difficult life, one that has both been created and impinged upon him. Every time he has something good and wholesome, he must screw it up. His marriage to Ruby was good but as with any marriage, things can become mundane and boring if you let it. So, he cheated on her, multiple times, finally, she said enough was enough. Sam Hardy ends up embroiled in the death of a young girl whose throat has been slit and instead of the ensuing investigation, his Sherriff sends him off to Angels and Hope, a close-knit town that has no crime…
Angels and Hope is a very odd little town. Don’t even think about mentioning the fact that young girls keep going missing and the townsfolk denying their very existence of them. Let’s also not talk about the fact that all four tyres on his car have been shredded. Let’s also not voice the thought that you won’t ever be able to leave. Why oh why did he hear screaming coming from the amusement park castle and why aren’t there any visitors?
Jon Bassoff is penned a tightly woven and intricately spun story of the past finally catching up with you. Life is a great big circle and will eventually come full circle to surprise you when you least expect it. It’s a story where you find that a few chapters are just not enough, you will consume and be consumed. Murder. Regrets. Power struggles. Secrets. Occultist behaviour. Prose that was akin to liquid gold, rare and valuable.
This is a book that will leave you uncomfortable, even those that are comfortable with the uncomfortable. Bassoff rips off the band-aid and leaves you dripping with blood whilst making you witness just how inhumane humanity can be. There are no rose-tinted spectacles here, there’s no glitter in the shit, he wants you to see and see you do. We see a blackened sense of a utopia, a mob mentality in search of the greater good, and that mentality of how those can do no wrong.
Captain Clive’s Dreamworld is a unique peek into close-knit communal relationships and the darkness that envelops the edges of their world. A subversive and supremely bizarre story.