The debut collection from Jamie Stewart serves up a fantastically varied array of horror stories, all quite different in intent and tone but all share Stewart’s strong sense of story and character. What really impressed me though was the propensity for the narratives to often veer in unexpected directions. More than once I thought I had the story figured out and was pleasantly surprised when the story zigged instead of zagged.
Here are my thoughts on the seven stories...
The first story concerns a truck driver receiving a message from beyond the grave on his CB radio. A cracker of an opener, blackly comic and chilling.
A sinister mystery set in a supermarket and the strange young man who comes to work there. A really strong story with hints of sci-fi and a thick existential dread.
Trick Or Treat:
An excellent Halloween themed story that cleverly subverts expectations by pivoting to a personal tale of loss and vengeance.
The Beach House: a short sharp story about the titular house and what takes place there. A nice sense of teenage friendship & nostalgia. Leaves you wanting more in a good way.
Alfie & The Dead Girls
A nice surprise this one in that it doesn’t do what you might expect it to and uses an interesting structure to tell the story of a family and the case of the missing girls of the title. Strong thriller vibes here and it thankfully forgoes a lot of the standard tropes found in this sub genre.
The Woman Under the White Tree
An engrossing tale of religion and witchcraft, with detours into the history of the titular woman. Creepy and involving with some great turns and some welcome sympathy for the ‘villain’.
I Hear The Clattering of the Keys
The opening of the final story cuts deep & then explores what led to the atrocity & then what came after. I would have liked more on the power of the typewriter & the hold it had over the main character, but it didn’t detract from the story. A great end to the collection.
5 out of 5.
BUY THE BOOK: