Book Review: The Pope Lick Massacre by Eric Butler

There are two types of people in Jefferson County: those who know the legend of the Pope Lick Monster and those who believe it. Before the night is over, Sam will have no choice but to join the believers.

Since their mother’s death, Sam’s sole focus has been taking care of her younger brother, Kenny. Now Kenny’s Scout troop is missing, having never returned from the woods around Pope Lick. Sam gathers a group of friends to search for the boys and their Scoutmaster. With each step, they get closer to discovering the scouts aren’t the only ones in the woods this night.

REVIEW: I’ve always found it funny when people say “There’s no such thing as Big Foot, The Loch Ness Monster etc. because we would’ve found them by now with modern technology. I’ve driven the backroads of every state in the continental United States. Want to know what I’ve found? A lot of empty space! You never realize how much of this country is undeveloped until you leave the comfort of your couch and view it with your own eyes. I’ve been in the forests of Oregon during the nighttime hours and, let me tell you, there are certainly things running around out there which no one has seen before or documented.

Want to know what else they don’t have in the deepest, darkest parts of our “modernized” country? Cell phone service.

My grandfather was an honest, no frills, Christian man, but he was also 100% Native American. He begged me not to go into some of the wilderness in my home state of Texas because “there’s things in the bottoms and woods that the white man couldn’t understand and were never meant to see.” This came from the mouth of a man who NEVER missed a church service in his life! I believed him but went anyway. He was right. Not only was I a personal hunter of all things paranormal a large chunk of my life, but I’ve been told stories from cops, paramedics, and the likes of UFO sightings, skin walkers, and oddities without names. These are professionals who cried as they spilled their hearts out to me.

Also, our own government is now a firm believer in the existence of extraterrestrial visitors after accusing people of being high or stupid about such things for decades. Things change, and so should we.

My hometown, as does everyone’s hometown it seems, had a Goat Man’s bridge. Legend has it that if you parked your car atop the bridge, killed the engine, turned off your lights, and honked three times, the legendary goat man appeared, and your car wouldn’t start. It was a rickety iron monstrosity that damn near collapsed the last time I crossed it. It’s since been replaced by a concrete bridge with no personality.

Confession: the legendary Goat Man DID appear from time to time, but it was a bored farm hand from a nearby pecan orchard who dressed up in old clothes to scare the shit out of unsuspecting teenagers.

Eric Butler’s “Pope Lick Massacre” takes place in rural Kentucky instead of Texas and has nothing to do with popping up from below a bridge. No, this monster isn’t at all interested in scaring people. Instead, he beats, maims, and eats its victims by some rather brutal methods! I don’t want to get into spoiler territory because that’s not the type of reviewer I am.

There are two types of stories playing out in the Pope Lick Massacre. The first is a survival tale of lost scouts against the mighty Goat Man. The second is a modern, small-town drama about the search party. The drug problems in rural America are not a hoax concocted by the media. They’re very real, and I actually lived them as an employee of my local Sheriff’s Department for over a decade. The things I witnessed with my own eyes would make a trust fund baby’s skin crawl.

This was my first Eric Butler novel and I plan on reading many more after this. He checked all the boxes in both the horror and drama departments and switched between the two seamlessly. This book is written in such a fashion to where I picked it up and read a good 50% in one sitting without so much as a bathroom break. The characters mimicked individuals from my own life which leads me to believe that me and mine probably have doppelgangers floating around in every American small town. That being said, they were easily relatable, and made you care about their wellbeing – even though your cares aren’t taken into any consideration upon the pages of this book. No one is safe, no matter how important, cute, or heroic.

I believe this would be a great read for anyone who loves horror, cryptids, or just the downright creepy side of America. I, myself, am a horror enthusiast, but even a beginner would find this book to be totally enjoyable without any overkill in the scare or gore departments.

Five stars all the way around on this one and a worthy addition to anyone’s horror shelf.

C.

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