THE NIGHT CHILD is the dark and moving debut novel from Anna Quinn. I feel like I should include a trigger warning, but on the other hand, a trigger warning gives you a heads up as to what is going to happen and I think it's best to let the author tell the story as she intended. Just be aware that there are very disturbing elements within.
I'm not going to run down the entire plot for you, but it begins with Nora, a high school English teacher, seeing an hallucination of a face with startling blue eyes. Here begins Nora's decline. Whose face is it and what does it mean? You'll have to read this to find out!
Being a seasoned reader of dark fiction, I pretty much knew where this story was going as soon as I began reading. Anna Quinn does a good job at depicting all the different psychological aspects of this situation, including the reactions of other family members and coworkers. My only problem was this: I didn't care for any of the characters. I felt pity for Nora and for her immediate family, but maybe that's what the author intended? Perhaps Nora's coldness was yet another symptom of her underlying issues and partially the result of her husband being such a jerk?
That said, this was a touching and disturbing story dealing with heartbreaking situations and I believe that it deals with mental illness, (or coming to terms with difficult, horrendous circumstances) in a stark, but believable way. For that reason, I recommend this book to those who think they can handle the worst of humanity.
*Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
For me, this anthology was nearly perfect. Almost every single story hit home with me, and the fact that the purchase of this anthology benefits the fight against cancer makes it that much sweeter.
Without further ado-these are the stories that affected me most, in the order in which they knocked off my socks:
MOLLY by Glenn Rolfe. I have read a number of Glenn's works now and it's my opinion that he's an author to watch. With this story, he has arrived! A killer doll, a hotel, sexy women and weak men-add them all together and what have you got? Molly. 5*
LIMB MEMORY by Tim Curran. It sucks to lose an arm. Turns out that it also sucks when the arm comes back! 5*
THE GOING RATE by John Boden. A super short, shocking story! LOVED. IT. 5*
EXTINCTION THERAPY by Bracken MacLeod. Beautifully written with one of those punch-in-the-gut endings that I adore. 5*
THEY SWIM BY NIGHT by Adam Millard. Who doesn't love a good story about sirens? (Not like on police cars, but like in ancient mythology.) You have to ignore those singing ladies, or they'll get you every time. 4*
THE PASSION OF THE ROBERTSONS by Duncan Ralston. This was gross, funny and messed up all at once. 4*
FEAST OF CONSEQUENCES by W.D. Gagliani and Dave Benton. This story was a constant stream of Oh No! Followed by YES! I 'll let you guess upon which of those the story ended. 4*
DARLA'S PROBLEM by Kristofer Rufty. This being my first Rufty story, I wonder why I've waited so long to check him out. When Darla comes to you with a problem-take her seriously.
SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK was an anthology that totally worked for me, and I'm guessing even though it's only January, this will be included in my best anthologies of the year.
You can buy a copy here, (remember-proceeds go towards fighting cancer):
This book has me conflicted! I listened to it, narrated by Mark Bramhall, and he was excellent. What follows are my thoughts on this book while trying to avoid spoilers, (even though the synopsis tells a lot already). Perhaps my feelings will become more clear as I write.
What I found most fascinating was this: think about how long you've gone in your life without talking to or touching another human being. I'm talking phone calls, internet, or hugs. As the author points out in this book-most of us have gone only a matter of hours. Imagine going for 27 years.
Is a person who has a need for quiet and silence sick? Are they autistic? Are they schizophrenic? Do they have Asperger's? The author asks all of these questions-of doctors and regular people alike. I couldn't help but wonder why everyone thought something was wrong with Christopher Knight. Is it so wrong to want to avoid people, noise, news, television, and electronics? Is that abnormal? I guess 27 years with no contact does seem strange, but sick? I'm not sure about that.
A number of philosophical views were also offered as well as quotes from many different books about hermits and recluses throughout history. Views on solitary confinement are also discussed, with most agreeing that solitary is a type of torture.
Here's what bothers me most: I'm not sure I'm comfortable with what the author did to get the information for this book. While I did find this story fascinating, the hermit himself asked Mr. Finkel to leave him alone on a number of different occasions, yet he persisted-not only visiting him in jail, but also visiting him in Maine once he was released. (Christopher Knight was incarcerated for a time, due to his repeated thefts of food, books and other items.) I'm not sure if I view this as honorable or as harassment.
I can't deny, however, that I did keep listening. I loved the parts that were direct quotes from Mr. Knight, because he had such a clear view of how he saw things/nature/people. Did all of these things make sense to me? No, but they sure did cause me to rethink my views on the world and all of its noise and distractions.
I will also admit to a bit of envy when Knight spoke of one of his deep winters in the Maine wilderness when there was NO SOUND. Nothing whatsoever. No animals, no planes, no birds, no chatter, nothing at all. It's hard to imagine that.
Well, I wrote all this and I'm still conflicted. I guess I am glad that the author pursued Mr. Knight because I did find this tome to be fascinating at times. It's just that I feel Knight's wishes were disrespected and I hate the thought of that; and I hate that I took part in it by listening to this book. Which probably makes no sense at all, but there you have it.
Have you ever read Jack Ketchum's OFF SEASON? If you did and you enjoyed it I recommend you give CHASING GHOSTS a go!
This novella flies by with the usual type of horror happenings. A gathering at a cabin with a bunch of hipsters ends up turning out to be something of a snack bar for your local hillbilly cannibals. With people disappearing, (mostly) one by one, and then the same happening to those who go out to look for them, this is not exactly original fare for horror lovers.
What I think made this novella more fun than most, was its fast pace, the new and unique ways of captivity and death, and the likable, (mostly), characters.
CHASING GHOSTS is not perfect, there were just a few punctuation and grammar errors, but not enough to bother me. I've read a few stories from Mr. Rolfe now, and it's my position that he keeps getting better and better.
Enthusiastically recommended, especially for those horror fans that love the work of Jack Ketchum, or love the whole redneck cannibal trope. This one's for you!
You can pick up a copy here: Chasing Ghosts
*I received a free e-copy of this novella in exchange for my honest opinion. This is it.*