Breed by Chase Novak

Alex Twisden is a wealthy and powerful New York attorney whose existence is rendered complete when he meets and marries Leslie Kramer, whom he playfully refers to as his trophy wife. Despite years of trying for a child – naturally, fertility treatments and new age cure-alls, the couple remains childless. Alex’s old-fashioned notions of preserving the family line precludes adoption, so when they run into a pregnant couple who formerly attended their infertility support group, Alex will stop at nothing to learn the secret of their success. It leads them to a creep doctor in Slovenia, a frightening procedure, and horrible side effects, but fast forward ten years later and they have their own biological child, twins even. They are also locking their children up every night.

The rest of Breed, Scott Spencer’s horror novel presented under the pseudonym Chase Novak, concerns itself with Alice and Adam escaping from their parents when it become clear to them that something terrible is happening in their home. They (especially Adam) are troubled by the  family’s seclusion, strange noises they hear in the night, and maybe even their own origins. Breed is problematic in the times when it reads like a heavy-handed indictment of prodigious wealth and old world style paternalistic ideas of inheritance, breeding (ha!), and the inherent value of genetic parenthood – even if you have to defy the laws of nature and turn to inhuman methods to make it a reality.

The children’s champion and would be protector is a middle-class, gay teacher who is committed to his job and his poor rich students even as he fears losing it, and his only means of support if his sexuality is revealed. He is pitted against the moneyed insistence of Alex Twisden and the prestige of the tony prep school attended by Twisden’s twins. Novak’s writing can be fine but he mostly isn’t able to consistently blend literary panache with his genre stylings – certain parts seemed to fall in either category, and the less than subtle morality made for an uneven reading experience. I think horror fans might enjoy this, even though it’s more gross than scary, if only because it attempts a deeper and more philosophical reading experience than the average fare. Weeks after reading it, I still have really mixed feelings on its merits an shortcomings. The fact that it has stayed with me for so long is definitely something to think about.

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