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Doctor Craig Bo has everything: a perfect wife and children, a thriving dermatology practice, and a house in a lovely coastal to...

Review | The Kelping by Jan Stinchcomb

Doctor Craig Bo has everything: a perfect wife and children, a thriving dermatology practice, and a house in a lovely coastal town. Nobody is surprised when he is chosen to be the Sea King of Beachside in his hometown’s annual festival.

But after the festival Craig’s world turns upside down. Something starts growing on his skin. His son tells him a story about a sinister mermaid who lives in the attic of the local history museum. And his beautiful wife, Penelope, can no longer hide her dark connection to the sea.

As Craig grapples with his own secrets and misdeeds, he finally understands the woman he married and the plans she has for him.

Book 9 in the Rewind-or-Die series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.


The Kelping by Jan Stinchcomb is number nine in Unnerving's Rewind or Die series. Those of you expecting a horror-filled flesh-eating mermaid tale might find it a little tame. What's inside these 67 pages is a more insidious tale of mermaids infiltrating a sleepy little seaside town.  It starts out quite strong with out-of-towner Nick meeting a beautiful woman on the beach and ends with Nick caught up in a deadly Beachside tradition. Then we meet Dr. Craig Bo. 

Bo is a pretty despicable human. From the outside in, he has the perfect life with a beautiful wife and kids but that's not good enough for Dr. Bo. A big donor, a family man, the town's prominent dermatologist, he sees himself as a god, personally responsible for the beauty of the faces around him. He has a dirty little secret though. He's being blackmailed after an indiscretion at the beach one night. Not that it's the first time. He has a long history but it's okay because he never kissed them and it wasn't with minors or men. It was easy to lie to Penelope because he loved her so much. (Gag.)

After the Kelping, a tradition where the year's Sea King is crowned and then layered with sea kelp, something bizarre starts happening. He slowly realizes that there's much more to the women of his town and his wife that he ever knew. The kelp starts overtaking his body as he turns into another being—one that craves the sea.  And he's the kind of man who gets what he deserves.