Blurb THE FIRE ANTS have no natural enemies. THE FIRE ANTS attack people and animals with a deadly sting. THE FIRE ANTS have drawn the good people of Scottville into a lethal baffle — against each other: Callie Ricketts — a girl in love, until death paid her for her sins Rev. Luke Coxey — a zealot who inspires his congregation with hate and fear Billy Joe Wyatt — a political hustler with a fatal mean streak Deputy Sam Henley — he only knows that unless his people work together he won't have any citizens left to protect...
its to Mr. Wernick's credit that, for at least seventy pages, i thought this was going to live up to the delirious cover illustration, but then somehow it all went a bit draggy despite itself, the very nasty ant attacks became fewer and farther between while the plot proper took over.
Scottsville, a small farming community in the Deep South, sits in a valley overlooked by the Colonnade, a lavish holiday retreat for wealthy city folk personally invited by mega-rich Senator Walker Coley. When the fire-ants arrive in their millions, destroying the impoverished peasants crops, Coley's response is to barricade the Colonnade and beef up security. His main man in this department is Billy Joe Wyatt, a local lad made good and, unbeknown to his employer, a psychopathic killer. Resentment festers among the farmers, reaching a peak when young Callie Ricketts is devoured by the ants during the inevitable al fresco sex session with her boyfriend (who, miraculously survives). After consulting the Good Book, Evangelist nutter Reverend Luke Coxey, founder of the Repentance Church of Christ the Redeemer, addresses his bereaved congregation with the news that Callie's death was due to "fornication" and, therefore, thoroughly deserved. Also, God in His infinite wisdom has cursed the valley with this Biblical plague of Fire-Ants on account of their corruption by those sinners up at the Colonnade. Are they prepared to do their Christian duty and strike against the sinners? Indeed they are.
It's young Deputy Sheriff Sam Henley's bad luck to be in charge of the tiny police force while all this is going down. Scottsville, the dullest place on earth, has become a tinderbox and he must somehow head off the impending violence and figure a means of ridding Scott Valley of its insect army. The fire-ants are not known to be choosy who they eat, but in Mr. Wernick's novel their preference is unquestionably for young women, one of whom Billy Joe strips naked and sends sprinting through an infested field just to see what happens (Wernick makes sure you find out: his gleeful account of the destruction to the corpse may even make you stop to wonder why you read this twisted rubbish).
Anyway, The Fire Ants is fun, but somehow just not as much as it should be. At 310 pages, it's at least sixty too long and if you don't preempt the ending you're one of those fortunate people who've never read a horror novel. On the plus side, Mr. Gaylord Scraggs and the seriously inbred Scottsville community have an endearing, Deliverance-like malevolence about them which kept my attention through the slow bits. It's not great, but i've a feeling i'll remember The Fire-Ants long after i've forgotten better novels.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
310 pages ! Wow. Is it as dull as the Treymayne Ant book I wonder. Never seen this one around. As opposed to the woman on the books cover, the fella seems to be taking the calamatous events reasonably well .