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A Passion For Horror

Book Review: Squirm by Richard Curtis


Squirm by Richard Curtis


By Richard Curtis

The book Squirm is the novelization of the 1976 film of the same name. The script for the film was written by Jeff Lieberman, but Richard Curtis wrote the novel. The story is set in a rural community called Fly Creek and the book begins by introducing a young boy named Roger Grimes who lives with his father on the local worm farm.

Roger has an intense dislike of worms, but his father is so obsessed with them that he spends most of his evenings in his workshop, studying them and performing experiments on their long fleshy bodies. This means that Roger, whose mother is dead, spends a lot of time on his own.

 Late one night, however, Roger, who is feeling a little lonely, decides to take a walk down to the workshop, where he finds his father experimenting with passing electricity through the tanks that house the worms. He has noticed that the electricity brings the worms up to the top and has hopes of finding a way of using this discovery to make it easier to harvest worms. Unfortunately, the experiment has unforeseen consequences and father and son both get a shock when one of the juiced up worms begins burrowing into Roger's thumb.

The story then jumps forward by fifteen years and finds Roger, now a full grown man, working alongside his father on the farm, and very infatuated with his neighbor, Geri Sanders. Geri has no interest in Roger though; she only has eyes for a city boy she met at an antiques fair. His name is Mick Gordon and when Geri is introduced to the story she is busy preparing for Mick’s visit, while Roger, who is outside picking up sticks, ogles her through the window.

Mick is travelling down by bus, but there was a bad storm the night before and it has brought down a tree, which is blocking the road, so the bus cannot get through. But what kind of man would let a little thing like a fallen tree stand in the path of true love? Not Mick, that’s for sure. He decides to walk the rest of the way, a task that is made all the more difficult because much of the land is flooded. He battles on though, arrives at Fly Creek, and finds the town has no electricity because the high voltage tower that provides it was blown down in the storm. Thousands of volts of electricity going straight into the ground, can you see where this story is going? I’m guessing that you can.

Squirm is not one of the best horror stories that I have ever read, but it is a reasonably enjoyable book and the idea of worms burrowing into living flesh is a suitably nasty subject for a horror novel. The beginning of the book is a little deceptive, however, because it makes it appear that Roger is going to be the main character, when, in actual fact, Geri and Mick are the main characters. Roger remains an important character, but it is pretty hard to know what to make of him. When Roger is first introduced it is easy to feel sympathetic towards him. As the story unfolds though, he seems more and more oddball, until he is almost the bad guy of the story, but there are contributing factors that are out his control, and he is not always responsible for his behaviour. Roger may have gone worm daft, but the local sheriff has no excuse for his actions.  His attitude stinks and he has it in for Mick right from their very first meeting. He is more annoying than anthing else, but I doubt that too many readers will  feel much sympathy for him when he has to face the writhing hoards of man-eating worms.

Buy Squirm by Richard Curtis

Buying Options

If you’ve read and enjoyed books like Spiders, Devil’s Coach Horse, or Worms there is a pretty good chance you will enjoy Squirm as well and it is, by the way, a slightly better read than Worms. How does the book compare to a Stephen King, or James Herbert book? It doesn’t. It’s just not on the same level, but if you fancy something a little different it’s worth a try, and at only 157 pages long it would not be too hard to read Squirm in just one sitting; and it’s got to be worth buying a copy just for the grotesque cover.

Squirm Book Cover

Related page: Squirm  DVD Review


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