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3-minute book review: Victims tap dark reserves to survive in 'Depraved'

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'Depraved' by Bryan Smith

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The book: ‘Depraved’ by Bryan Smith is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The story: When people travel through Hopkins’ Bend, they become prey for the town’s backwoods inhabitants.

Opening line: ‘She’d been driving for hours by the time she finally found what felt like the right place.’

The review: ‘Depraved’ is a hard-core survival horror novel about average people who face extreme violence while traveling through Hopkins’ Bend, a remote and cursed Tennessee town with families of in-bred cannibals roaming the countryside.

Imagine the bloodiest blend of the movies ‘I Spit on Your Grave,’ ‘The Hills Have Eyes,' ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and 'Deliverance,' and then ramp-up the sex and violence by a factor of 10 and you have a sense of how depraved ‘Depraved’ is.

Not for the faint of heart or most decent folks, ‘Depraved’ is pure grind house. It’s the best kind of hard-core horror, because it’s written for fans of the genre, which means no PG-13 cop-out scenes and no easy way out.

‘Depraved’ follows the stories of a victim of violence named Jessica, a ne’er-do-well named Hoke, and an easygoing couple named Pete and Megan after they all encounter the degenerate residents of Hopkins’ Bend.

The author Smith thrusts the reader into a gut-wrenching tale of sickening lust and intense brutality where the worst-case scenarios get worse and the twists get more twisted.

While the barbarity takes center stage, Smith manages to add a somewhat soft layer to his hard-core tale by introducing one of the locals, a young girl named Abby, who’s starting to comprehend her family’s ways are not quite right.

The beauty (or the horror) of ‘Depraved’ is the interesting and sometimes bizarre decisions the characters make when cornered by the ultimate question of survival: How far are you willing to go to live another second, another minute, another hour, another day?

The characters tap their own reserves of depravity to try and survive the terrors of Hopkins’ Bend. It’s sort of a ‘fight fire with fire’ approach, if fire’s ingredients are sex and violence.

By the end you’ll wonder who’s more depraved: The ones born into depravity or the ones who choose it as a means to an end.

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