Edge of the Known Bus Line

We rated this book:


Don’t get on the bus when the sign says “Out of Service.”

That may not be the actual moral of this book – there may not be an actual moral at all – but I’ve found that every piece of horror media begins with someone failing to follow advice that really ought to be obvious. Here, for instance, our protagonist steps onto a bus that carries her far past any place she should have gone. Her journey brings her not just to another part of town but to what feels like another world entirely, a slum populated by cults and cannibals, where she must choose between protecting her humanity and protecting her life.

This is such a short book that I’m wary of saying more about the plot. What I knew when I started that book was about as much as that previous paragraph says, and I’m glad I didn’t know more. In such a spare book, every detail matters, from the plot to the setting, and even to the characters, and I was thrilled at the chance to discover all of them.

I should say I was thrilled and occasionally disturbed. As I said before, the world our protagonist stumbles into is filled with cults and cannibals, and the author spares no detail in showing the horrors she must now live with. The book is vivid and visceral, awakening all my senses and occasionally turning my stomach without ever entirely turning me away. I was far too compelled by the story to put it down, and thankfully the author never sacrificed moving the plot along or developing the protagonist’s character just to fit in more gory details. I’m sure we’ve all read too many horror novels that were bloody simply for the sake of shedding blood or became bloated because the author wanted to fit everything into the book and didn’t know where or what to trim. There isn’t a single word I would cut from this book, and not just because there aren’t enough to spare. Every word in this book serves its purpose. The novel has been crafted and edited to perfection.

Though I was glib at the start of the review, there is something more to be drawn from the novel than just the reminder to make sure you know where the bus is going. Throughout the book, the protagonist struggles to hold on to one kernel of hope: that she will not die today. This may not be the light, fluffy hope that we often find in fiction, but it’s a more realistic sort, one necessary to live in a difficult world.

Reviewed By:

Author James R. Gapinski
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 134 pages
Publisher Etchings Press
Publish Date 2018-May-21
ISBN 9780998897608
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue October 2018
Category Horror


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