Benny Rose is a legend in the small town of Blackwood, Vermont. His stories are famous among the local kids, and when Gabrielle moves to town, there’s ample opportunity to get her acquainted with the horror she’s missed out on. Desiree St. Fleur and her friends take it upon themselves to introduce her, personally, unknowing of the storm brewing.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
Benny Rose, the Cannibal King brought about a couple of exciting firsts, it being my first Hailey Piper novel, as well as my first experience with the Rewind or Die series. It was all about typical teenage shenanigans gone wrong, where Desiree and her friends attempt to prank the new girl on Halloween by teaching her of the town’s very own urban legend. Going by in a flash, it owned several cliches that worked to its advantage – my yearning for that classic slasher was satisfied, but that’s not to say it lacked surprises. Piper added layers to her characters, Desiree in particular, establishing them as individuals to identify with rather than cardboard cutouts, and what started as me not entirely warming to Desiree and friends, changed quite drastically over the course of the book. Look, I like depressing things and all, but a bond born from trauma gets me in the heart. It’s also great to see more and more horror with strong female protagonists, I’ll never get tired of it.
It wouldn’t be a murderous rampage without a villain to hound the steps of the poor victims, Benny Rose fitting the bill. He made an impression on me, his every description making my skin crawl; it’s always a delight when the monster owns the page. Dishing out suffering like a pro, the details of his appetite left little to the imagination, Piper’s vivid imagery more than entertaining. I also appreciated the history surrounding him, as well as how the truth was skewed by the townspeople in the favour of a good scary story – it was pretty accurate, even when the facts are disturbing enough, people always evolve them into something else over time. My only niggles about the plot related to the adults and how they got away with what they did, but I won’t go into heavy spoiler territory.
What can I say about the ending? It was glorious, simple as.
In conclusion: Bringing a local legend to life, Benny Rose, the Cannibal King was a short yet memorable read. Isolated in a strange neighborhood, three friends get a harsh lesson when trying to scare a fellow schoolmate, their cruelty morphing into redemption as they struggle to live another day. It was fast-paced, at times flaunting a quirky sense of humour while still retaining a sense of deeper meaning. I loved Benny Rose and how he was written, he’s one gentleman I wouldn’t ever want to run into.
Teenage girls could be demons.
© Red Lace 2021