By Jeffrey Thomas
Dark Regions Press
Dark Regions press, after publishing the Jeffrey Thomas collection Voices from Hades not long ago, is back with a new novel by the author. Well, not exactly new. It’s one that Thomas wrote back in the 1980’s but never published. Not an uncommon move for Mr. Thomas as he’s done this with various Punktown stories and novels he (and sometimes with his brother) wrote in their early years. Certainly can’t fault him, strike while the fire is hot, right?
The novel centers on two cousins, Ray and Paul, who start to experience strange happenings in their daily lives. Ray’s parents were murdered when he was much younger and he was raised by his Aunt and Uncle (Paul’s parents). When he becomes an adult, Ray moves into his parents house and that’s when strange things start to happen. Thomas has a knack for coming up with bizarre premises and disturbing imagery and he certainly uses that to full effect here.
Using alternating plotlines, Thomas weaves the stories between the two main characters. There are many things to recommend about the book though – strong imagery, solid characters, well crafted suspense within the chapters, original story – but there are a couple of knocks against it. The first is that the setting is in the mid-1980’s and he doesn’t update any of the dated references. If he had the characters reflecting back in time on what happened that might work a bit better, or if he had just updated it to the current time. The second is that the chapters are quite long. On one hand, it gives him more time to flesh out the characters, but on the other I think it loses some of the suspense and focus at points. Maybe he could have cut up the chapters and alternated them more frequently. That way the suspense is kept a bit tighter and maybe even use cliffhangers. So a couple of quibbles, but I’d recommend the book even with the faults as Thomas has still crafted a very creepy tale.
- Reviewed by James R. Beach