Follow the Maggot Wagon by Robert Essig
A rollercoaster ride of horror
As I got into this book I was mad. Jamie's character is really a jerk. Then I was prepared for this book to take a turn and it did, but in the opposite direction. I'm still mad and I still hate Jamie. But I have to say this is a brilliant piece of work.
Read This One, I Dare You!
Follow the Maggot Wagon takes the road trip narrative in a deliciously awful direction. Jamie and Adam had been friends for most of their lives, but they'd gradually grown apart as Adam's impulse control issues and drug use led him down paths Jamie wouldn't follow. Though Adam's poor impulse control might have helped to push the friends apart, it was also the thing that contributed to years of pranks, dares, and manipulation by Jamie and other friends. Old tensions arise as the two friends find themselves stuck behind the maggot wagon, a truck that smells like it's hauling a full load of carrion beneath the tarp in the back, and Jamie takes this as an opportunity to push Adam into doing something risky and juvenile, pushing his buttons along the way. The true surprise of Essig's story isn't what's going to happen, as the reader begins to suspect where things are going long before we arrive at the farmhouse. The shock is the motivation behind it. Throughout the story, we catch glimpses of the eroding facade of civility between the two friends, as the interactions take on an increasingly cruel and bitter tone. We think we know why we're speeding toward the inevitable outcome, only to find ourselves just as stunned as Jamie and Adam are when more secrets get revealed. I suspect many of us have friendships like this, where old grudges and recrimination are difficult to forget and perhaps more challenging to forgive. Thankfully, most of us don't decide to follow the maggot wagon as Jamie and Adam did. This was an excellent character study, portraying both individuals with vivid and tragic dimensionality. Both Jamie and Adam are relatable, and that makes it all the more disturbing because one has to wonder how much or how little it might take to push us into either the driver's or passenger's seat.
A literary form of Smell-O-Vision
Jaimie & Adam, friends since grammar school, plan a road trip to a remote retreat to reminisce and reflect on their longtime friendship. A relationship built on a need for attention, belittlement and hidden insecurities. As they approach their destination, an aged farmhouse becomes center stage that features betrayal and vulnerabilities that are transformed into poisonous developments of the extreme kind. A Maggot Wagon - a dead meat truck that is called upon to extract dead farm animals, mainly cattle, that have met their demise in one fashion or another. Author Robert Essig has accurately represented the decomposition of humanity and sanity through his novella sized book appropriately titled, Follow The Maggot Wagon. He cleverly pits a volatile friendship against a guilt free conscience and creates a tense foundation of uncharted territory for the reader. Essig uses his macabre renderings immersed in rotting flesh and horrid deception to capture the deterioration of benevolence. The manner in which he implements these thoughts and concepts forces the reader to be a willing participant to a gruesome true-crime like scenario. There are many involved layers to this brutal work of fiction that ingeniously reveal themselves one at a time. From the beautiful cover to the literary smell-o-vision, this book wafts the comprehensive stench of inanimate creatures and the wetness of bloody dishonesty. Each and every page begs the forethought of…what if your best friend knows something, a dark secret that you did not, yet in due time all will be disturbingly exposed. A five star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Horror Bookworm Recommendation.