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arrakiswitch

A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Reivew: Letters to the Damned by Austin Crawley

Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley

 

A creepy, atmospheric piece utilizing one of my favorite horror tropes: the small English village. Pagan rituals and mythical creatures abound, as the villagers seeks to keep their secrets from the prying eyes of outsiders.

 

I generally liked the writing style: it was direct, if a bit overly verbose at times, and the author, when focused on it, had a good touch with building suspense. The hero, Cris, was likable and relatable, and I really liked the idea of the double-fish out of water scenario, someone who, as a Mexican American, isn't even entirely at home in his own country, but I think the execution of it wavered between strong and too stereotypical. His incredulous awe at every English custom began to wear, and it almost made me shout at the novella on a couple of occasions. 

 

Cris: TOMATOES AND BEANS FOR BREAKFAST? WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT?!

Me: Dude, you're Mexican.

 

I think if the author had had a more intimate knowledge of Mexican-Mexican American culture, he could have begun to draw similarities between the two disparate cultures that he didn't find in America.

 

My second complaint, as it were, is the big one, and what knocked a star off of it for me, and that's the fact that it feels and reads as the perfect length, but there are superfluous chapters, the second one, with the in depth description of driving, and then one towards the end, with Cris touring York, that felt that they could be better used maybe developing Aileen's extreme aversion to having Cris there in the village, or maybe explaining what he and Liam and the third guy had talked about in the pub that night. I don't need explanations, and I really liked that the author wasn't holding my hand, but just a little more would have really developed the horror of it.

 

I think my favorite thing about the piece was the revelation at the end, and the subtext becoming apparent (no children in the village, his fear of the little girl sacrificing herself, all those little details) as you think over it, and connect what it had all meant to him. There's a wonderfully creepy note right at the end that left me thinking about the novella long after I'd finished it, and I'll always have to give thumbs-up for that!

 

A very enjoyable read!