Filmmaker and author Keith Tyler Hopkins is bringing his Gravedigger Dave Presents series to the world of literature. His latest book, Red Betty and the Murder Farm, reads like it’s meant for the big screen.
This is a horror story peppered with bits of humor, heart, and superhero vibes. While reading, I not only visualized the story as a film, but also saw it as a comic book come-to-life.
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In the beginning, we meet Red Betty and her parents. Betty’s parents run the Murder Farm, where villains of all kinds rent space to carry out their dirty deeds, no questions asked. Betty was born into this life and assists her parents with clean-up in more ways than one.
Life takes an unexpected turn when things go south on the farm. Suddenly, Betty’s family’s livelihood and survival are threatened by one of their patrons, Dr. Talky. Betty has to step up and fill some rather big shoes. She gains a new friend in the process, and grows up in a short amount of time.
It’s my understanding that this story was originally written as a screenplay, and that makes sense considering how it reads. There are many aspects that stood out and made for a quick and enjoyable read.
Hopkins’ filmmaking and screenwriting skills come into play in this story, as expected. The pacing is great and there’s rarely a lull in the action. This pulls the reader along and maintains interest from beginning to end.
Despite the murder and gore (as you can expect from the title), there’s heart to the story, and that creates a necessary balance that adds to reader investment. We’re not given a lot of time to get to know Betty or her family before the action begins. This could’ve been a downfall, but it worked in this instance. I developed initial judgements of Betty and her parents that changed over time. Seeing Betty go through a range of emotions throughout the story increased my empathy for the character. She is a worthy protagonist and I’d enjoy reading or watching a series based on her character, especially if it includes her sidekick Bloody Boy.
I also enjoyed the characters and their varied descriptions. I could visualize all of the villains and this made the reading experience more entertaining. I’d love to see any survivors show up in future stories within a Murder Farm series or within the family of Gravedigger Dave Presents stories.
My only complaint is that there were some editing issues throughout the story that I couldn’t ignore. For many people this does not take away from the story, but in my reading experience, it’s a stumbling block that pulls me out of the narrative on occasion. With a bit more polish, it would’ve been a perfect read for me.
Overall, this was a fun read. If you’re looking for a quick horror story that packs a punch, add this one to your list. I think it will be a hit for many horror fans who also enjoy superhero comics and anthology films.
Red Betty and the Murder Farm is available now in paperback and Kindle format.
Wicked Rating: 8/10