‘C’mere, kid. Daddy’s gonna play a game.’
Michaelbrent Collings is a master at instilling sheer and unadulterated terror into a story, I’ve never known an author be able to twist the tension and your emotions so capably and so bloody easily.
The first chapter immediately makes you sit up and narrow your vision, kids in bad situations will do that but it’s soon followed by another gut wrenching moment. One that emotionally bonds you to the plight of the Douglas family, Blake, Alyssa, 8 year old Mal and baby Ruthie. Baby Ruthie is born with a serious condition and a vaso-occlusive crisis could happen at any time, in other words, pain, for a baby, screaming and just a trifle heart breaking.
They get back home and this poor family must have really pissed someone off in the past because life doesn’t just turn upside down for them, it jumps out of an aeroplane with no parachute and points, laughing at what’s coming next, all the way down. The next disaster is creepy crawly based and it’s in young Mals room. Blake rushes to help.
‘He backed up and kicked the door.
Again. Again. Again,
Mal’s screams bled together’
It’s fast turning into a world of screams for our family, the next thing, they have to evacuate and move into a rented house. Things don’t get any better though, this house has a rather worrying and horrific history. Ghosts, abuse and transformations all worm into your mind as you watch a man fight a battle with his own destiny, succumb to the pain of his childhood and a house that will destroy their sanity.
‘He felt a phantom hand across his cheek. The last beating his father had given him.’
The story is told from the perspective of each family member, you can feel the terror from every one of them, it doesn’t take a break, nor give you a break from a relentless onslaught of distress and tension. There’s an overwhelming feeling of disaster, doom, not everyone’s going to survive, people will change, something old, twisted and evil will infect them, play with them. This book will take you to places you really don’t want to go and that’s with no gore or extreme horror vibes, just good old fashioned screams. And yes,I did enjoy my second read from this author and recommend him if you’ve not read MbC before, especially the audio if you’re into that, he’s picks the perfect narrators.
Words by Paul Nelson