Six suburban white kids venture into inner city Philadelphia because one of them "knows" where he can get good drugs. It's plainly not a good idea. One made all the worse when their car breaks down in a run down neighbourhood.
When a group of black teenagers approaches them they fear the worse and panic, not waiting to see if the group was intending to rob/attack them or, perhaps, help them. They run, heading straight into an old, seemingly deserted house at the end of the street. Once inside they find themselves in a mutant nightmare, the house is populated by some of the most twisted, vile sub-humanoid creatures I've ever read in a mainstream horror novel.
The danger is immediate. As soon as they close the door behind them they run into the first of the house's freak occupants - a giant, pus-oozing, brutal beast of a man carrying an un-really large hammer. From this point on they will undergo a terrifying ordeal, running, crawling, sliding, swimming through every kind of foul substance, desperate to escape the mutants intent on making them lunch (and you guessed it - I don’t mean they are inviting them to dinner).
Keene has managed to create one of the most disgusting books I've ever read. Talk about slime. This book positively drips slime, mucus, blood - in fact pretty much every type of bodily, or otherwise organic, fluid oozes out of every page of this book. As a novel is the total embodiment of the word "ew"!
I've never read anything that made you cringe as much as this book. Keene wants you to live this experience, breathe in the odors and drink the filth; yes, drink - his characters end up doing just that, half drowning in something you'd rather not go within a hundred yards of.
But for all its unpleasant content this is a good read. Keene has managed to write characters you can actually sympathise with. They make mistakes, they get scared and lash out, but they are human, and they are in deep shit (literally).
It is possible to say that the plot, such that there is one, is lightweight. Six kids get locked in a building full of twisted mutant monsters. It doesn't sound that inventive or realistic - sounds like maybe there's not enough to maintain interest to the last page. And that would be true but for one thing.
It's a very fast paced novel. There's no hanging around here. The whole of the book takes place within a single evening, a total time-span of perhaps a couple of hours. You aren't going to get bored with this one.
Brian Keene has a knack for horror. He can induce some serious scares. He can make you cringe. And with Urban Gothic he's added to an already impressive horror resume. Watch out for this guy, he's going places.