Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: Slights by Kaaron Warren

Slights by Kaaron Warren
Angry Robot
498 pages (20 pages of extras)

This is a powerful first novel by Australian writer Kaaron Warren. This novel is marketed as horror, but as I read I had a strange feeling. This novel felt like the kinda of novel that is sold as literary fiction, when we damn well know its horror. For example American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis or in Science Fiction Mary Dorian Russell’s The Sparrow. Those are books that are clearly genre but we have to explain, argue and debate those titles into genre as if it’s a ghetto.

Slights feels like one of those novels, because while it is clearly horror it doesn’t follow any previously used horror structure. Those structures are often hidden to the reader, but to us students of the genre they are easy to detect.

It was a interesting read for me. I enjoy Slights a lot but because I am so comfortable with the structure that when it went off the rails it was a little off putting for me. I have had huge problems with the ways some books have unfolded but I could tell most readers would enjoy the book. Sometimes the missed chances for suspense drive me nuts but I know most readers don't know the difference.

When I was 300 pages into this book, I told my partner Cari that it was a good book but needed to lose two hundred pages. I was convinced that the story could have been told in much more streamlined way.

Thankfully I stuck it out, because I think the page count is paid off by the end.

Slights is disturbing and the most original psychological horror novel I read in years. It seems very Chuck Palahniuk influenced. A fasinating puzzle about Stevie a eighteen year old woman whose mother dies beside her during car accident. But Stevie died too, and before she came back she didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel She was in a dark room with as the people she had been bad to in her life.

Stevie is brought back to life and with each chapter when visit with Stevie a year older and more damaged. Early in the novel you have to wade through some jerky flashbacks, but dealing with Stevie's childhood is very important to the story.

The back of the novel sells a story of serial killer but that part of the story doesn't really become clear until you have read a novel's worth of pages. it doesn't matter the journey that makes this a must read book is the decent into maddness that drips off every single page.

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