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Literature / Kill River

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Kill River is a 2015 horror novel written by Cameron Roubique, who specializes in 80's slasher stories, and it is his debut novel. A sequel was officially released on, fittingly, Friday the 13th of October 2017. A third novel was also released on June 11th, 2020.

In the summer of 1983, thirteen year old Cyndi is forced by her parents to go to a summer camp in order to curb her antisocial tendencies. The music loving punk girl is none too happy about this, realizing she'll be the oldest girl at camp, but finds herself with no choice but to attend. On the trip over, she quickly meets the other oldest kids at camp, wealthy Stacy and troublemakers Brad and Zack, all aged 14. Cyndi's taken aback when the pretty and obviously popular Stacy approaches her, and the two become fast friends, making Cyndi's stay at camp better than she thought it would be, even though some of the counselors are extremely strict towards the teens due to Brad and Zack's inability to stay out of trouble in all their years going to camp.


After a good day goes awry because of the boys, the teens are given a harsh punishment, leading the group to the desperate measure of running away from camp. After a night of rafting and sleeping in the woods, the group becomes lost and eventually reach a water park under construction in the middle of the woods. The teens find themselves unable to resist the temptation of enjoying the already finished rides before trying to find help, but soon enough things start going wrong. Why are the rides turned on despite the park being deserted? Why is it deserted despite being under construction? Did they just see someone lurking around that corner? Soon enough the teens realize they're trapped in the park with a merciless masked killer. The brightness and fun of the water park is gone, now only horror and death remain.


Kill River contains the following:

  • Alpha Bitch: Cyndi sometimes mentions her former best friend Jennifer, who became this after she got in with the popular kids and shunned Cyndi away, making Cyndi be initially wary in regards to Stacy wanting to befriend her.
  • Asshole Victim: Brad, to an extent.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cyndi survives and seemingly kills the masked maniac, although his body is never found, and she has grown and matured because of the friends she had made. However, all three of her new-found friends (including Zack, who had essentially became her first boyfriend) are brutally murdered. It's also suggested that Cyndi is deeply traumatized by the incident.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Comes into play, considering especially that the killings are taking place in a water park.
  • The Bully: Brad and Zack tend to bully the younger campers, especially Brad, who is introduced into the story by punching a little kid in the arm hard after the paper airplane the kid threw hits Brad in the face.
  • Chase Scene: The killer chases Stacy through part of the park and then chases Cyndi for even longer, even down one of the slides.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Cyndi always feels better if she has her walkman with her, and this is established in the first chapter of the book. Keeping it on her saves her life when the killer attacks her as she throws it at him and hits him in the face, and later on she also uses the headphones to choke the killer and help keep water inside his rubber mask as she tries fighting him off in the river so he'll drown.
  • Closed Circle: The water park.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Brad and Zack do this constantly.
  • Cool Mask: The killer wears one. Specifically, it's a rubber mask of the water park's grinning cartoony captain mascot, Kaptain Smiley.
  • Creepy Mascot Suit: The trilogy features a big, hulking killer who stalks and kills people in a water park, always wearing a rubber mask of the water park's grinning boat captain mascot called Kaptain Smiley. The mascot's drawing's around the camp are done in an antiquated style that make's the character look creepy and unnerving rather than cute, with vacant eyes and an overly large grin, and the mask the killer wears captures all that creepiness, especially whenever it gets wet and sags.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: And how. From Brad being found with his lower jaw barely hanging by a few muscles, to Zack having his face bashed repeatedly on concrete and slowly drowned, to Stacy being impaled on a piece of wood and hoisted up for extreme pain before the shock and blood loss finally kills her.
  • Dark Secret: It's hinted that the counselors at camp may know of a possible killer or just somebody living in the woods.
  • Deadly Bath: Stacy, desperate for a shower, immediately jumps into a shower stall once the group finds the park's bathrooms. While alone, the killer is the other side of the shower curtain and Stacy, sensing someone there, desperately tries rinsing off soap from her hair and eyes to make sure. This is ultimately averted, though, as the killer runs off upon hearing a scream.
  • Defiant to the End: Stacy, knowing that she's about to die, uses the last of her strength and energy to scream Cyndi's name, in an attempt to alert and save her.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: We spend a lot of time getting to know the characters before the deaths and mayhem start.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The troubles start when the main group does this.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Averted, as the killer never removes his mask. This actually works against him at one point.
  • Dwindling Party: Once Brad disappears, the rest of the group explore the park some more, and it's not long before Zack and Stacy are killed as well.
  • Establishing Character Moment: You know Brad's gonna be the Jerk Jock type when the very first thing he does is punch a little kid when the kid's paper airplane hits him in the face.
  • Expy: Author Cameron Roubique has stated that he bases some of the characters in his books on either people he has met or on characters from horror movies. In this book, Cyndi is based on the character Violet from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.
  • Final Girl: At times it looks like both girls may be this, but only Cyndi achieves it.
  • Genre Throwback: To 80's slasher movies.
  • Ghost Story: The counselors at camp tell some during one night around a campfire. Ashley's about to tell one of her own but gets a subtle warning from Sheehan and she quickly changes her tune, hinting at them maybe knowing something the campers shouldn't.
  • Glasgow Smile: The killer gives one of these to Brad, while also seemingly breaking his jaw.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The killer tries to drown Cyndi as she tries crawling through a water pipe to freedom, but the dead bodies he himself put in the river have blocked the water flow, leading him to chase after Cyndi himself. Right as she finds the way out, the pipe becomes unclogged and a rush of water sweeps the killer to his possible doom.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Stacy.
  • Implacable Man: This killer is extremely persistent.
  • Jerkass
    • Brad is a spoiled jerk who bullies younger kids, has no respect for authority, can't keep himself out of trouble and thinks he can get out of it by either flashing a smile or giving attitude. He showcases glimpses of decency but they are few and far between, getting overshadowed by his jerkish behavior.
    • Counselor Morgan is loud, grumpy, condescending, overly strict, and often comes across like she hates her job and takes it out on the campers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold
    • Zack starts out the story being as big a jerk as Brad is. However, as the story moves along, he starts showcasing more positive traits beyond the immature prankster that he is, with Stacy especially taking notice.
    • Head Counselor Kirk Sheehan is really strict towards the teens and obnoxiously condescending towards Cyndi, if only because she hangs out with Stacy, Brad and Zack, but his behavior stems from all the trouble that the trio (though mainly Brad and Zack) has caused in camp for years, and he is otherwise a decent guy who seems to enjoy his job.
  • Kill the Cutie: Stacy suffers a brutal death.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: The group becomes separated for a bit when Stacy insists on taking a shower and Zack and Cyndi go check a nearby building. It happens again after Zack is accidentally electrocuted, Stacy going off to try getting out of the park and Cyndi leaves a stunned and weak Zack to try to find anything to help him. That is the last they all see of each other.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Stacy is spoiled rotten, but she's also a sweet girl who genuinely likes awkward loner Cyndi and stands up for her no matter what.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The park's mascot is a cartoony grinning boat captain meant to look welcoming but instead comes across as creepy, and the killer showcases this in full as he wears a rubber mask of said mascot.
  • Menacing Stroll: Averted, as this killer runs after his victims.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Stacy is the last person to be killed and is also the killer's only female victim.
  • Nice Girl: Counselor Ashley is stated to be the nicest and coolest counselor at camp, always kind to everyone, and Stacy is mortified that she's not their counselor this year.
  • Not Quite Dead: After Cyndi thinks she may have drowned the killer, he eventually returns to chase after her again.
  • Odd Friendship: Quiet, antisocial punk girl Cyndi and wealthy, popular girly-girl Stacy could not be more different, but they develop a strong, genuine friendship.
  • The Quiet One: Cyndi is this among the teens and just in general, often staying quiet and her tone of voice is low, though ironically, she hates silence and that's one of the reasons she's always listening to music.
  • Red Shirt: Cyndi finds out in the worst way possible that the killer spent time (apparently days) killing the workers building the park before she and her friends got there. She listens to only one of the murders recorded in a cassette, but it's made extra clear later when she finds a pool full of over two dozen rotting corpses and also a few more in the tunnel connecting the river to the park.
  • Sensory Abuse: Of the aural invasion kind, as the killer cranks the loudspeakers throughout the park to play music that sounds quite distorted, and at such an extremely loud noise that the teens can't even hear each other or themselves screaming, scaring them even more than they already are.
  • Silent Antagonist: The killer never speaks.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Both Brad and Zack are seriously potty-mouthed and swear often, and even Stacy swears quite a bit too. Cyndi averts this, to the point that she's surprised at herself when she finally lets out a curse word.
  • Slasher Film: The genre in novel form.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Brad is the first to die, and Stacy also dies as the killer's final victim. Cyndi, also blond, manages to survive.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The killer puts on perky music, yet badly distorted and at extremely loud volume, to disorient and make the teens even more scared. The author also has a style in which he gives the book a soundtrack in and of itself (the full list is found at his website) in which certain songs would play out during certain scenes in the story as they would in a movie, and at times the title, lyrics or message of a song totally contrast with the happenings in the book, especially the song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" played as the killer chases Stacy through the park.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Stacy, who comes from a privileged background and is given whatever she desires, but is also a genuine Nice Girl who befriends anti-social Cyndi and always treats her with kindness and respect, defending her from Brad several times.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: As per usual with slasher villains, the killer is able to pull this off at times.
  • Summer Campy: Where the initial part of the story takes place.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: This is one determined killer.
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: The teens are trapped in the park, unable to find a way out (they never find an actual gate to the park) and the fence surrounding the whole park is electrified.
  • Undying Loyalty: After initially trying to find a way out of the park by herself, Stacy decides to go back for Cyndi and Zack, but the killer finds her first.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: The teens eventually start wondering why the water park is completely deserted despite the working rides.
  • The Un-Reveal: The killer's mask is never removed, thus we never see his face or even get to learn anything about him beyond his desire to kill anyone inside the park.

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