In her debut novel, Rena Mason hits it out of the park with her horror novel The Evolutionist. Set in the Las Vegas suburbs, Stacy Troy lives a self-absorbed life with her friends, who are cast right out of one of those Housewives of show. Mason even cleverly has Stacy and her group of friends trying to be cast on the show. Her days are filled with yoga classes, spa treatments, and driving her son around. Her nights are filled with brutal nightmares where she dismembers the bodies of her loved ones. Although Stacy feels as if she is losing her mind, I wouldn’t classify this as a psychological horror novel. The nightmares lead to a purpose. When she can no longer take it, she goes to see Dr. Light, a psychiatrist, who uses strange techniques to help Stacy, except that her nightmares only get worse, and she begins to hear voices. The twist where this all leads to caught me by surprise in a good way.
The first thing that stands out is that Rena Mason is a talented writer, something that as a fellow writer I can appreciate. Her prose rings out strong and clear, especially her dialogue. The characters are also very well developed, even if they are not always likeable. For instance, Mason does a good job with Stacy’s circle of friends, even though I didn’t find any of them someone that I would root for. There is a nice build that leads to the climax, and a dark sense of foreboding that resonates in this book. If you like your fiction dark and appreciate good writing, this is a novel that you will want to pick up.