Blister by Jeff Strand

Title: Blister
Author: Jeff Strand
Date Added: October 1, 2017
Date Started: November 12, 2018
Date Finished: November 20, 2018
Reading Duration: 8 days
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Suspense, Dark, Humor

Cover of Blister by Jeff StrandPages: 275
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Media: eBook/Kindle

They call her Blister. She’s a hideously disfigured twenty-three year-old woman, living in a shed next to her father’s house, hidden away from the world.

Jason Tray is a successful cartoonist, banished to his agent’s lakeside cabin for a few days of mandatory rest and relaxation. One night, while hanging out with a couple of the locals at a dive bar, he takes them up on their offer to go “see Blister,” having no idea what they’re talking about.

He peeks through the window at the most nightmarish thing he’s ever seen.

In the morning, he wakes up, hung over and regretful. He’s better than this. He needs to…apologize?

From the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of PRESSURE, DWELLER, and WOLF HUNT comes a tale of fiendish secrets, ghastly crimes, and human monsters.

Blister’s premise is a bit of a bait-and-switch, and it kind of has to be.  You can’t squeeze a 275 page story out of a man being an asshole to a disfigured woman and then apologizing the next day.  Obvious questions about how she became disfigured come up, as well as why the hell she’s living in a shed, and just when you think all the questions that can be answered are, something else happens to keep the story interesting.

What Strand does right is present his protagonist Jason as a relatively reasonable human being who loves and cares about his dog Ignatz to a fault.  To someone who’d do the same for her cats, his actions against the kids who deliberately tried to hurt him are exactly what they deserve.  He even attempted the more “adult” route of speaking to the one boy’s mother who not only couldn’t care less, but tried to gaslight and victim blame both Jason and Ignatz respectively.

What this presentation does is give readers some character credit to fall back on when Jason gets drunk and makes a complete ass of himself in spying on “Blister,” per the locals’ goading.  She’s not even the butt of the joke or even a person to them, but rather an object of disgust and ridicule with Jason as the joke’s target for being “forced” to look at “something” so horrible.  Remember in middle or high school where a bully would come up to you and say “X wants to ask you out” in front of X in order to embarrass them because there was nothing more embarrassing or disgusting than just the thought of dating/being seen with you?  You weren’t the butt of the joke; X was.  You were just a prop (and if this didn’t happen to you, count yourself lucky and/or popular) with no feelings to even consider.  That’s what this woman is, and Jason is the only one to realize it the next day, and it’s the reason he goes back to apologize.  What ensues next is a series of ever more shocking revelations that never leave you bored.

Strand does tend to use what a call rapid fire dialogue where he’ll just go back and forth between two characters without tags, and that can get confusing when you’re trying to figure out who’s talking.  The benefit is it’s extremely witty in addition to mimicking how people actually speak, which is one of the author’s strong suits.

It would be morally bankrupt of me not to at least mention disfigurement and how our society treats disfigured individuals.  I was going to go into an in depth examination of this, but disfigured people like Michaela Moody, who I originally discovered on Twitter, have already done the labor, and that’s who we should support.  So it’s difficult if nigh on impossible for me to speak for whether or not Strand does a good job representing this community.  I can say that both characters were likable; the titular one doesn’t come off as “just a poor, disfigured lady,” and the novel has a satisfying and fairly realistic ending.

4 stars.

One thought on “Blister by Jeff Strand

  1. Pingback: The State of the Writer: 3/5/23 | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.