Written by: Daryl Gregory
ARC Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Tachyon Publishing
Expected Date: August 2014
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Urban Fantasy
Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping.
Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.
Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these likely-insane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within and which are lurking in plain sight.
I am always a big fan of aftermath stories. You know the ones that I am talking about. It doesn’t mean that everyone is safe, but there is something I truly enjoy about rebuilding stories or aftermath stories or hell even PTSD stories. In a way this is one of those aftermath stories.
The premise is fairly simple. Group therapy for survivors of the supernatural. Harrison was made famous for stopping the world’s destruction as a teenager and infamous after a series of books came out about him. Barbara survived the Schrimshander though she has never been able to see the carvings he left on her bones, only the scars. Stan survived a Texas Chainsaw Massacre clan of cannibals but not without a cost. Martin never takes off his glasses because he can see things with them that others cannot. Greta lived in a cult for most of her life and has the scars everywhere on her body to prove it. And finally Jan, our therapist who believes their stories and has secrets of her own.
Things I loved: On occasion the lovely folks over at Tachyon Publishing send me some ARCs and I dig what they send me as they are largely anthologies which I am a big fan of. And then sometimes they send me things that completely surprise me. This book was like that. I liked the premise, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I liked it…a lot. Sure there are some problems and we will get to those later, but this is one of the first books in a long time where I read it in one sitting. It helps being a novella, but still.
I absolutely love the premise. I wanted to know about each character and what they had witnessed or survived and how that changed them. Of course if you a horror fan like I am you can see echoes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the works of Lovecraft, and more. A nod to the things I love is great. Each group member had an interesting story and each dealt with what they had gone through and how they dealt with the other group members differently.
Things I didn’t love so much: It was short. Incredibly short. And while most of the book starts building on connections, revelations and growing the therapy group as a whole, when they go to fight and really come together it seems rushed. The big bad seems itty bitty and I wanted something more. I wanted every single member to use the skills that they have acquired to battle. I wanted them to use their knowledge. Like I said I wanted something more. I want a full length book. I want to know more about Harrison (who seems to be the only one we really don’t get to explore with a backstory chapter). I want my rag tag group to do something greater.
The voice of the novella got a bit annoying. Sometimes it was first person and then suddenly it would change to third person. I am not a big fan of the first person plural as when everyone is referred to as ‘we’ it means that the individual voices disappear which I think are very important as you spend enough time establishing them as such. Not everyone is going to look at the situation the same way or have the same feelings about the situation. It took away from the story, and kept me from getting as immersed as I would have liked.
Buy or Borrow: Buy. I enjoyed it enough that I am really hoping Gregory is preparing a sequel as we speak.
Part of: Stand Alone.
Also Recommended: For more Daryl Gregory please try Pandemonium and Afterparty. For more horror fiction try Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey.
3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks