BOOK REVIEW: Run To Ground
– By Dave Dubrow
Jasper Bark’s Run to Ground is a story of unusual power, showcasing Bark’s skill at taking the indescribable and making it completely, dreadfully real. Despite its fast pace it’s still a bit self-indulgent in its length, combining flashbacks and a cast of characters that could have been shortened to maximize the narrative’s punch. Nevertheless, this is a read that will utterly fascinate, even as it elicits disgust and humor in equal measures.
Bark is as thoughtful a writer as you’ll read in any genre, and he often uses horror tropes as a pulley, of sorts, to move the machinery of much larger themes. In this case, it’s responsibility, specifically parental responsibility. The protagonist is a ne’er-do-well who develops an unusual and disgusting perversion that must be read to be believed, and as the story unfolds, the reader is given terrible, appalling hints as to what motivates him…and what he runs from.
Every character in the story was named after real-life people in the independent horror scene, a choice that tends to take the reader out of the narrative and makes one question the seriousness of the story’s intent: is this a lark meant to be read by insiders and friends, or a work of fiction to be enjoyed by all comers?
The bizarre mythology Bark has created in Run to Ground is disturbing enough to shake you to your very foundations, and the old gods you thought you were familiar with hold no power compared to the horrific entities he describes. Nobody does it like Jasper Bark, so if you’re smart you’ll stop reading this review and get your copy of Run to Ground in just a few clicks of the mouse. And if you feel a rumbling under your feet, don’t run. You’ll just die tired.