World’s Scariest Places: The Catacombs
The Catacombs is written in first-person narrative, mostly from the perspective of an American called Will, though includes some shorter chapters from the perspective of other characters. Will has relocated to Paris with the intention of starting over, after a boating disaster turned his life upside down, killing his younger sister and best friend, on the night before his wedding.
He befriends a local girl called Danièle, who shows him video footage of an Australian woman lost in the Catacombs beneath the city. She convinces him to join her on a night-time trip, deep into the caverns and tunnels on a hunt for this missing woman, along with her friends, Pascal and Rob. Although reluctant, Will later agrees to accompany them, after an unexpected conversation with his ex-fiance spurs him on.
Initially I was a little sceptical going into this book, I’d read the previous novel in the ‘World’s Scariest Places’ series last year and was a bit underwhelmed by the story. Suicide Forest didn’t live up to the creepy goose-pimply tale I’d been expecting, but I was hoping, considering the location, that The Catacombs would make for a much scarier story.
…possible spoiler warning…
The first half of the book was interesting, creepy and claustrophobic at times with the tiny cat-hole crawl-spaces, and pitch dark tunnels full of skeletal remains. The exploration was interspersed with historical information about the Catacombs existence and original functions, as the four friends traverse their way through the labyrinth of cave systems underneath the city.
However, the second-half descended into your typical American slasher style story, with deformed ‘Hillbilly’ type people living relatively undisturbed for generations inside the deepest parts of the vast tunnel systems. Our four protagonists are essentially attacked in self-defense, for sport, by these ‘hillbillies’ for accidentally stumbling upon their home.
I felt a little déjà vu on reading parts of this book, as the ‘Hillbilly’ aspects reminded me a lot of the previous novel, Suicide Forest. There were deformed and deranged ‘Hillbilly’ psycho’s living in Aokigahara Forest in Japan, who attacked unsuspecting hikers, just like these guys attacked people in the deeps of The Catacombs.
As a result the plot just wasn’t exactly original or thought-provoking, and with very little by way of true scares, at just 3 out of 5 stars The Catacombs is just another mediocre story from horror author Jeremy Bates and nothing to get excited about.