Who is Prisoner 489?

Prisoner-489Last year, Dark Regions Press approached HHP to promote their kickstarter campaign on the publication of their second instalment in the Black Labyrinth series. The good news is that the book entitled Prisoner 489 has been released. Penned by best-selling author Joe R Lansdale (Cold in July, Hap and Leonard series, Bubba Ho-Tep) and beautifully illustrated by Santiago Caruso.

I was fortunate enough to get hold of an advanced copy to delve into and cast my thoughts over the horror novella and I was certainly captivated by this gripping page-turner.

Lansdale has a great way of casting his characters in unique locations that allow the viewer to connect with their despair and isolation. I often conjure up John Carpenter’s The Thing or Assault on Precinct 13 with this in mind and Prisoner 489 is no exception. We find ourselves cast on an island, which shares its waters with another remote island. An island, that coincidentally houses the roughest and strangest criminals known to mankind. The purpose to the neighbouring island on which the story is set, is to bury the prisons inmates who received their death sentence by electric chair. A small group of caretakers live on this island to oversee the burial duties – far from civilization, with only each other for company and the occasional drink and porn to pass the time.

Told through the eyes of one of the caretakers, whose been living on the island for many years, Bernard is a quiet, restrained soul who has concluded that he will no doubt see out his years on the island.

He has hopes for the youngest of his companions, Wilson though, as he sees a lot of himself at that age.

The remainder caretaker, Toggle, doesn’t always see eye to eye with Bernard and they fail to find common ground, which make it hard for them to engage with one another.

Their only other human contact comes in the form of Kettle, who shepherds the deceased from the prison island on his boat to their final resting place. It is on one fateful night that Kettle transports Prisoner 489, a huge bulk of a man; A man who took 4 shots of electric chair before he was declared dead. But who is Prisoner 489? What kind of being can take that amount of electricity to pass through the body? And did he truly die?

Lansdale manages to really up the ante in a short timeframe to keep the reader cranked up to the maximum on adrenaline. Each page brings a new level of pure animosity and dread. Lansdale’s mind and imagination casts his reader into a world of sheer terror and that makes Prisoner 489 a must read for fans of the horror genre.

Check out more on the novella here.

For the previous article on the kick-starter campaign and our interview with Chris Morey from Dark Regions click here.

~ by surgeons of horror on January 11, 2015.

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