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The Other Room: Weird Fiction Paperback – April 2, 2013
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About the Author
I'm a writer from Nottingham, England and I mainly write short stories. Most of what I write is dark, supernatural fiction, although not necessarily 'horror' in the blood and guts sense. My main influences are writers like Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson, and Robert Aickman. I've had stories published in magazines like Dark Moon Digest and Morpheus Tales, and the anthologies Pulp Ink 2 and Off The Record 2. I enjoy the unexplained, the psychological, and the ambiguous in my weird fiction, and this is the kind of story I try and write. I drink Guinness, if anyone's offering.
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Top customer reviews
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Everington doesn't use blood and gore for shock value with his horror. Instead, he plays with his readers' minds. He holds a mirror to our fears. And, for me, the possibilities he dangles are far scarier than any monster ever created.
There were 12 stories in this book, they were all lyrically written and quite original(which in itself is a feat). I did not care much for a few of them, but, for me, that is not unusual in a collection such as this. Finding 5 stories that absolutely knocked my socks off IS unusual!
First off, my favorite story, "A Writer's Words" was well written, concise and a pleasant surprise-very different from anything I've read before. For the main character of the story, what happened to him was an absolute horror. For me? It was glee! This story goes down as one of my favorite shorts, EVER.
I think it has one of the best endings ever for a short story (which is saying a lot because I prefer shorts with a punch).
I also very much enjoyed "First Time Buyers", "Schrodinger's Box", "Some Stories for Escapists #3: The Haunted House", "Red Route" (my second favorite in this collection" and lastly "When the Walls Bend" which was a different type spin on an old theme.
I also liked the author's note section at the end. I always enjoy hearing an author's thoughts and reasoning behind a story, AFTER I've read the story. There were some interesting tidbits in there regarding how the stories came about; it was like a peek behind the curtain.
I usually like to make a note regarding any errors, typos or formatting issues. In this case, I don't have any notes to make. I noticed very few, if any, errors and lately, that's very refreshing.
I would give this book 4.5 stars if the system would let me. Since it doesn't, I've left it at 4.0. I am going to keep an eye on this author...I have a feeling that his name will be more well known in the future and I want to be in on the ground floor!
I think the most important phrase in the (Amazon)description might be "literary fiction," followed by "psychology of the protagonist." The horror angle in the stories is almost always a metaphor for other things - loneliness, fear, isolation, regret. The word "haunting" really does double duty here. While there were chilling moments, if you're looking for escapist gore I'd suggest you take a pass. However, if you're looking for well-written fiction about what it is to be human and, oh yeah, supernatural stuff happens, then you'll probably be quite pleased.
In fact, the book description is pretty perfect.
I'm not rating characterization as a specific category since there are over a dozen stories here and too many characters to take into account as a whole, I was consistently impressed by the author's ability to make each main character unique and whole in their own right. It's very easy for an author to fall into the same voice for multiple characters, and I didn't feel like any two main characters were alike.
The Other Room: 4 1/2 stars
Hey this would be a good name for the anthology. The first good thing about this story was that it let me know I was going to enjoy this anthology. I read this out in my backyard - er, garden to the Brits - and I think I must have looked fairly slack-jawed to anyone passing by. I simply wanted to know what happened next and I was legitimately concerned for Waits, a man who finds that an adjacent hotel room leads to a different version of his life. My only issue was the ending. The author seems to like a certain ambiguity, and it often works, but I almost felt like maybe he simply didn't know how to make the power of the ending match the rest, and - more so than usual - this is really a subjective opinion, and based on my personal need for fully resolution. The same general type of ending here worked perfectly for me in another story.
Home Time: 5 stars
This is one of the stories that really gets full use out of the word "haunting." Beautifully written, evocative, masterful. Home Time makes wonderful use of a Philip Larkin poem entitled The Explosion, and the way the author allowed the words of the poem and the words of his story to plait together was ... wow. The main character is from a down on its luck ex-mining town, but I think his point of view resonates with anyone who's entered adulthood sure, on the surface, that they've "escaped," while secretly terrified that all roads lead back to the past. (There's a scene in a Buffy episode I'm really struggling not to reference right now.)
Some Stories for Escapists #1: The Werewolves: 4 1/4 stars
A little bit of flash. Nicely done. To quote Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein:
Larry Talbot: You don't understand. When the moon rises, I'll turn into a wolf.
Costello: Yeah ... you and about five million other guys.
First Time Buyers: 4 ¼ stars
In Danse Macabre, Stephen King discusses the original Amityville Horror movie and says that perhaps the scariest part of it is not the overt supernatural stuff but how the house is ruining these people financially. He suggests that perhaps it should have been called The Horror of The Shrinking Bank Account. I believe the main characters in his story can relate the pressures of a new house, precarious employment, and a bad economy.
Schrodinger's Box: 5 stars. Not actually a horror story though. The first story where the author takes an overt philosophical turn - or at least the first time I noticed it. In Home Time, the author uses a poem that a character is reading to bring home the theme of the story. This time we have the example of Schrodinger's cat to tell the story of a woman who feels boxed in. The ending honors the story title and also provides a pitch perfect ending.
The Watchers: 4 3/4 stars
Okay, we're back to the supernatural as metaphor. The Watchers was about a lot of things, among them the nature of attraction, and -- I believe - how some people lose their identity and just become a projection of what their partner needs. How a gaze can feel like an assault. The desire to be honestly seen. There were moments when the story didn't feel as tight as some of the others, but I was still engrossed.
Some Stories for Escapists #2: The Plague: 4 stars
More flash. I wondered if the writer had something more specific in mind than what I could place - if the plague was a parable for disease in general, or a specific malady. What I do know is that it was an astute exploration of the nature of denial and ostracization. (Spell check says that isn't a word, but I think it is.)
The Final Wish: 2 ¾ stars
Look, a story I didn't care for! I think I understood what the author wanted and where he was going but the writing felt like a young person's experiments with writing more than a mature effort. I had to struggle to rate this one and make sure I didn't punish it for not being as good as the previous stories. I'd sensed that the author might have a tendency for florid language, but this is the first and last instance where it felt like he gave in to that tendency.
A Writer's Words: 4 stars
This story was scary for me at moments -- I find few things as terrifying as the thought of the type of loss of expression that the main character, Liam, suffers, and even as a reader I felt like I was on the brink of a panic attack at moments. I felt a little differently about it at the end of the story though, as this author made me see it in a new way. I don't know if the ending was supposed to be as scary as the rest and I'm just quirky, but the ending felt like a letting go -- the feeling you get when the worst happens and you're still standing. Although, it's a little unclear if Liam is still standing anywhere. Hmmm...
One nitpick: the character of Liam says that it was a Twilight Zone with the earwig eating through someone's brain -- it was a Night Gallery. Of course, sometimes these errors can be deliberate and the main character was a little distressed.
Some Stories for Escapists #3: The Haunted House: 3 1/2 stars
This is a very short story with layers of meaning, where the "scary" takes back seat to the use of language to draw in a reader and make, in this case, her think. However, this one was not one of my favorites.
Red Route: 4 ¼ stars
I think a lot of people will sorta figure it out, but this is still well worth the read. Nicely done.
When The Walls Bend: 4 ¾ stars
In some ways, this is the most traditional, purest horror story in the collection. The author brings the same psychological angle that elevate other stories, but there's I was also genuinely frightened of the things going bump in the night and one line made me gasp. This is also another one where the author doesn't spell out everything.
The book contained an author's note at the end in which he discusses the inspirations behind the stories. I wrote the review before reading it, even though I was aware it was there, because I think a story has to stand on its own with no additional help from the author. I loved reading it afterward though, and seeing where I'd misunderstood the writer's intent - and misunderstood it. I had to smile that I'd mentioned that one of the stories reminded me of King's discussion of Amityville Horror in his Danse Macabre, and then the author cited DM as an influence for the Some Stories for Escapists flash pieces. It made me feel like a read smartypants.
Writing Style: 4 ¾ stars
I think from my comments it's clear that I'm pretty pleased and pretty impressed by almost all aspects of Mr. Everington's skills. I sense he will not be the reader for everyone, probably not for the horror fan who values gore over the literary, but I see all the tools in place for someone who knows how to tell a good story.
Editing: 4 stars
Periodic issues. For instance, twice "starring" was used when "staring" was the intended word, "eek" instead of "eke" the unintentional misspelling of a character's name, or the wrong tense of a word made it through. I enjoyed this collection so very much and would have liked it even better with an extra pair of eyes making sure it was publishing ready. Perhaps it's even more important since what shines through these stories is the author's love of language.
I wouldn't buy a book like this again, but to be fair I'll give it a reasonable rating as I'm not familiar enough with the genre to be too judgemental.