Matthew Lyons’ A Mask of Flies – a crime horror novel which blends It Follows and Reservoir Dogs, with a pinch of Evil Dead – will be published by Nightfire in Summer 2024!
Career criminal Anne Heller hasn’t been back to the family cabin – a secluded shack deep in the
rocky reaches of southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley – since she was a little girl, the night
something killed her mother.
Twenty years later, in the bloody aftermath of a botched bank heist, Anne reluctantly returns to
the site of her mother’s untimely death to hide from the fallout. With her is Jessup Lees, the
wounded mastermind behind the heist, and Dutch Greene, a police officer taken hostage in
Anne’s panicked split-second decision.
As they wait for help, Anne discovers strange relics of her mother and begins to unfold the
mystery of her young life there. However, her quest to learn more is interrupted when Jessup
goes missing, only to turn up mutilated and dead on the barbed wire fence surrounding the
Together, Anne and Dutch bury her friend, but that night, the dead man comes back, seemingly
risen from his grave to knock at the cabin door. Not a dream, not a hallucination, but not exactly
Jessup, either. Something else. Something wearing her friend’s face. Something hungry…
Here’s what Matthew Lyons has to say:
“At its heart, A Mask of Flies is a novel about death and loss and family—the one you’re born
into, the one you choose, the things we inherit from them, and the things we have to leave
behind, either by choice or by necessity. It’s a story about legacies and change and the
inescapable cycles of trauma and violence, and the ways that we all carry those forward with us
without even really meaning to. It’s also a novel that is, in some way, about its own creation, too—about all our doomed attempts to fight back against the random chaos of life, and that
horrible way that things have of changing when you’re not paying attention.
Originally, A Mask of Flies was supposed to be a way different book than it turned out to be. I
think it’s fair to say that most novelists would tell you that this is true of every novel, ever, and
yeah, okay, fair point, but let’s be honest here: there’s change, and then there’s change.
I thought the book was going to be one thing; I had spent months planting plot-seeds and tending
the garden. I knew exactly where this story was going to end up.
And then someone I loved (someone that I still love very much) died suddenly, for no reason.
Just one of those random things, the universe pulling the fuck-you card and throwing it in my
Overnight, my entire world changed, and quite without my meaning for it to, the book changed
with it. Nothing can really prepare you for that kind of loss; there’s no getting around something
like that. It’s like having one of the struts kicked out from underneath reality. There’s this
seismic shift, and the axis of your existence never really goes back to the way that it was. The
best you can hope for is to find a little peace and stability in the new normal,
whatever normal looks like in the aftermath.
Anne Heller, the career criminal at the center of A Mask of Flies, lives her whole life in the
aftermath. Early on, she suffers a loss that comes to define her entire existence, a loss that
touches everything, because loss never happens in a vacuum. Every single character in this story
is coping with loss, grappling with their own grief. Not all of them are successful at it, but the
ones that are understand that trying to deal with it alone makes it so much worse. It changes
shape and sneaks up on you when you’re not looking. It grows teeth and festers in the darkness.
In a very real way, that ever-changing manifestation of grief is what haunts the pages of A Mask
I ended up writing this novel as a way to help myself heal, and as a tribute to one of the best
people I’ll ever know. It’s about loss and pain, but maybe more than that, it’s a story about
coming out the other side stronger than you were before—even if the process leaves you scarred.
Because despite how much something hurts, healing is possible. Reality settles into its new
normal eventually. We dust ourselves off again and keep going, because that’s the only choice
we have, really. What matters in the end is the people we surround ourselves with in the
aftermath, the ones that help us keep moving forward. A Mask of Flies is a story for anyone
who’s hurting, grieving, dealing with loss. You’re not alone. None of us are ever alone. All you
have to do is reach out a hand.”
And from Kristin Temple, associate editor at Nightfire:
“A Mask of Flies is the kind of page-turner you’ll want to swallow up in one gulp. Matt expertly
mixes the heist-gone-wrong element of Reservoir Dogs with the creeping, supernatural terror of
It Follows, and then sprinkles in the creepy woods of The Ritual, for good measure.
My favorite part, though, is Anne. She’s a hot mess, the kind who will stab you first and ask
questions later. But she’s also so human that it’s impossible not to root for her. I can’t wait for
readers to get swept away by her story. They’re in for a real treat.”
MATTHEW LYONS is the author of the novels The Night Will Find Us and A Black and Endless Sky, as well as over three dozen short stories, appearing in the 2018 edition of Best American Short Stories, Terror At 5280’ and more. Born in Colorado, he lives with his wife and their cats. Also: he’s probably taller than you, not that it’s a competition or anything.
Photo courtesy of the author
A Mask of Flies will hit shelves Summer 2024!