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Where You Live Paperback – November 28, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Usually when readers praise a writer's imagination they're impressed by the number of whimsical places and creatures he can describe. But it requires a powerful imagination to explore our dread of mortality within the common spaces of modern life--between the office and home, or on a weekend drive in the country--and to make the exploration compelling. McMahon has imagination to spare. He visits seemingly ordinary people just before they encounter or admit something terrible. More often than not, the horror they face corresponds to inner turmoil. Husbands and wives all but wreck one another with love. Fathers are so afraid of failure and vulnerability, they become the monsters their children dream about.
If the settings and characters seem, at first glance, mundane, remember that these are only starting points. The explicit dangers of the actual world, where everyone must die, are woven together with the mysterious and the numinous, often in magnificent patterns.
McMahon clearly aims to get us "where we live," offering familiar guides with nametags askew, to lead us into something horrific. And maybe home again.
In “Just Another Horror Story,” a couple in the middle of a torrid love affair check into a hotel room for a night of debauchery. Little do Terry and Nancy know what actually awaits them. This tale was a great introduction to Mr. McMahon’s work. While I was able to anticipate some of the twists and turns in it I was pleasantly surprised by how often he made me second-guess my predictions about what would happen next.
“Trog Boy Ran” is by far the best story in this collection. Shortly Niles Reedman responds to a recent, painful breakup by stalking his ex-girlfriend and very odd things begin to occur around him. The pacing in this piece is so well done it felt almost cinematic. As disturbing as it was for me to step into the mind of a chilling and extremely dangerous protagonist, I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end of Niles’ adventure.
I desperately wanted to like “The Chair.” In it a boy named Ben battles with despair, loneliness and an undisclosed malaise as his mother struggles with her own mental illness. The introduction caught my attention right away, but I had trouble understanding the symbolism of certain objects in Ben’s life and well as what was happening in the final scene. The sequel to this tale, “The Table,” answers some questions before asking the reader to sort out a brand new batch of them. The concept is alluring, but given the subtlety of what is happening these particular stories may have worked better as a novella.
This pattern repeats itself a few other times in this collection.Read more ›
Not only do these stories contain descriptions of hauntings, nightmarish apparitions and violently insane individuals, it also takes an in-depth look at the darkness in the minds of people. Most of these tales explore the extent to which the human mind can be warped by despair, disillusionment, depression and truly negative circumstances.
I liked the fact that most of the main characters were thoroughly, and often disgustingly flawed, thus making them scarily realistic. In some of the stories I had to wonder what was really happening to the character and what was simply horrors conjured up by the person's own fearful, desperate or vengeful psyche.
"I had nothing else to give, nothing left to offer up as a sacrifice. The best of me had withered long ago; all that remained was dust and shadows."
The author is a master at creating atmosphere; from sleazy to menacing to the suspense created by severe hatred and revenge; while the message remains:
"Beware the darkness. It is watching. It knows where you live..."
As the whole book is set in England, these stories are all so totally and uniquely British that it felt as though I was walking the streets and lanes of English towns and cities with the characters. The vivid descriptions of rainy weather and seedy circumstances added to the depressed tone of the book. Fortunately this collection contains one story with a happy ending.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've come to trust Gary McMahon to deliver stories that give me the shudders and he's done it again here.Published 13 months ago by MissScarlett
Where You Live by Gary McMahon is a collection of short stories that is guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Monique Snyman