Published by Random House on July 21, 2022
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, Gay, Psychological, Thrillers, Horror
I am kicking off spooky book season with a review of the fantastic Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib. This was one of my favorite reads this year. Habib’s debut novel is an emotional and tense queer horror novel with an excellent plot twist and gruesome body horror.
Todd, a single parent, is at the beach with his son Anthony when he runs into a childhood classmate. Jack relentlessly bullied Todd in school, but now he is thrilled to reconnect with Todd. Todd is thrown off because they have not seen each other since they were at odds in their teens. Jack ends up sleeping on Todd’s couch and spending the night. Anthony and Jack quickly hit it off, and Jack continues to sleep over. Todd begins to question Jack’s motives and whether running into each other at the beach was a coincidence. I will share nothing more to avoid spoiling this twisty story.
I loved how dark and tense this story was. The twist about a third of the way into the book made me audibly gasp. This is not the book to de-stress; I was at the edge of my seat. Habib delivers the body horror. There is one horrifically explosive scene that I will never forget. This is a character driven story; you really get into the psyche of Todd. Flashback chapters from Todd and Jack’s childhood are interspersed in the first part of the novel. There are also some sections told from Anthony’s point of view. I was impressed at Habib’s ability to write in a child’s voice. Anthony’s sections are written in a childlike stream of consciousness. The novel concludes with a powerful, emotional ending. This is the first time a horror book brought tears to my eyes.
If you are looking for gay horror novels to read this fall you can’t go wrong with Hawk Mountain. Below are my thoughts on the gay themes in the book. Feel free to stop here to avoid some light spoilers.
Warning Light Spoilers:
Hawk Mountain focuses on toxic masculinity and the internal unrest of closeted gay men. The violence in this book is caused by society’s failure to accept gay men. For me, this book is about how being so deep in the closet can make one project and externalize their self-hatred onto others, with disastrous and extreme consequences. Reading this book, I was heartbroken for closeted people who are unable to openly be themselves, especially queer people from my parent’s generation who grew up in a time when coming out can be met with such oppression.