A thriller, or horror, story is not at the top of my list when it comes to reading matter, as it typifies, for me, a precursor to relentless nightmares and escorted trips to the loo in the middle of the night. Therefore, I thought I’d venture out of my comfort zone, for my latest review as a member of the Reader Panel for Alfie Dog Fiction, and dip my toe into the water to read Sarah England’s collection of 25 stories, as featured in 3am and Wide Awake. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. All the stories retain the pace, tone and tension of a traditional thriller, and then some. They are brutally honest, occasionally sad and reveal much more about the human condition than you might expect to get from tales in this genre.
Although most have a connection with an afterlife and involve spiritual karmic retribution, others are more terrifying because of the reality of their circumstances: the battle to overcome psychotic inner demons; the unconscious and paralysing nature of mental illness, and the all-consuming power of rage.
As in any anthology, I enjoyed some more than others, with my particular favourite being ‘Burned’: a traumatic and transformative journey following disfigurement, the startling imagery of which left me exhausted by its end.
My only niggle about this book would be the print errors that crop up occasionally and could have been avoided with more proofreading, but that’s just me.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this as an entertaining read. It would serve as a perfect accompaniment to a quiet Hallowe’en at home, with nothing but your imagination to keep you company.