Yes, Catt Dahman is back in the genre she does best - extreme Laymonesque horror, perfectly pitched to set your nerves on edge. This time around, a group of strangers all awaken to find themselves in cages - one arm or one leg handcuffed through the bars of the next cage around, linking together until they form a circle - hence the title.
At first all these strangers think they have nothing in common but, upon entering into conversation, all discover they share a mutual acquaintance. It is not long before this acquaintance makes her presence felt - and that is where the fun begins.
Their captor plans to force them all to undergo a bizarre, psychological experiment - the nature of which is to discover just how far all of them will go to survive. Provided with limited food and rations as and when their captor sees fit, the group soon find themselves playing a series of very deadly games; games in which they are forced to push themselves to the absolute limit and in which only a few of them will survive.
If you are at all squeamish, don't like scenes of torture or cannibalism, or are of a nervous disposition, this book is NOT for you. It is quite graphic in places, thoroughly unpleasant, and features everything I like the most in Dahman's writing. There were more than a few instances when I again found myself thinking - as I have numerous times before reading her work - 'Catt, you are one evil, sick bitch at times', but that is exactly why I love her horror fiction. She makes you care for her characters then puts them through Hell.
Laymon's influence is present throughout - along with the very obvious influence of films such as Saw or Hostel, better known in some circles as 'Torture Porn' movies - but Catt, at the same time, does a good job of making the story her own.
If I had one personal complaint, it was that I wished we had seen a bit more of their captors and the end sequence had maybe been extended a little bit and expanded on, but then it is Catt's story, not mine, and what she does here works very well indeed.
If you have enjoyed any of her other titles such as Z is for Zombie, Smooth, Louisiana Saturday or Alice and Friends, then you will certain, enjoy this. If you haven't read those earlier books, then this is a great place to start.
A good, strong solid 4* - it is so good to see Catt back write in the genre in which she belongs....