24 March 2020

Review || Food Fright by Nico Bell





High school junior Cassie Adler just wanted the bullying to stop. She thought gaining a spot on the varsity soccer team would whip up instant friends, but it isn't until the popular girls need Cassie's help that they acknowledge her presence. Cassie reluctantly agrees to participate in a prank that turns sour fast. Now with blood on their hands, she and the popular girls race to cover their tracks. But something savage knows what they've done, and it's hungry for revenge. Can Cassie redeem herself before it's too late, or will her deadly sins ketchup to her?




 


As part of Unnerving's Rewind or Die series, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into Food Fright by Nico Bell. I honestly didn't even care about the blurb; Look at that cover!  You just know all kinds of cheesy goodness is waiting inside!

Food Fright not only leads us through the teenage high school angst of trying to be one of the it crowd, but it also does it in a deliciously disastrous way. Cassie Alder wants so badly to be part of the inner circle—so much in fact, that she'll help the soccer team captain and her flunkies initiate Jennifer, a freshman that made the varsity team if it means that Cassie can belong to their group. When Jennifer escapes her tormentors and stumbles upon the scene of witchcraft gone wrong, events are set in motion to make sure they get their just desserts.

While there is a small cast of characters, they don't stay on the page long. Utilizing a parallel narrative, Food Fright mostly divides its chapters between Cassie Alder and Emily Bower, the high school's Home Ec teacher and amateur witch. With an all-female cast and a 90-page novella, these characters don't have much room for growth. Surprisingly, they don't need to. They are who they are and you can happily cheer when they occasionally get eaten by a giant croissant. (My favorite scene! I can perfectly visualize it and even hear its little French "hon hon hon" laugh.) 

Campy horror is frequently one that can be taken too far. Bell, however, mixes her ingredients with care, making sure that the absurd doesn't outweigh the terror. While the horror manifests itself in ways that are ludicrous and laughable, it doesn't do so at the expense of producing a frightful setting. While creating horror that is both gross and engrossing while simultaneously generating giggles is a difficult recipe to follow, Bell shows she's already a master of the art. Food Fright will have you cringing and laughing. Home Ec has never been so delightful.