Retribution Books, eBook Â£0.96 41pp,Â LINK
Reviewed by Chris Limb
This is no chain letter, hoax or prank. It is a sincere warning about your home and the entity which dwells within. Your home has been haunted for quite some time…
Thus begins a terrifying tale in the form of a letter to the reader from an alleged previous occupant of their home. This clever conceit adds an extra dimension of terror to the narrative as the reader cannot help but imagine the events described therein playing out against a very familiar background, the bedroom in which they fall asleep every night and to which they no doubt already from time to time awake suddenly in the night for no readily apparent reason.
(Is someone in particular that youâ€™d like to unnerve? For enhanced authenticity a paper edition of the story can be physically mailed as a personal letter to a recipient of your choice â€“ for further details see scaryletter.com).
No matter how down to earth or sceptical you may consider yourself there is something about waking up during the hours of darkness that will always suspend your rationality. A Sincere Warning… uses this setting to great effect as the protagonist (who has chosen to remain anonymous) first experiences the effects of the haunting. Similarly the negative effects of insomnia – something many readers may have experienced at some stage in their lives – are perfectly described, with the eponymous entity at first being responsible for the protagonist’s disturbed sleep and then eventually the reason why he or she is so desperate to avoid sleep altogether.
As the situation goes from bad to worse, the hopelessness of the situation is palpable and the exhausted desperation felt by the letter writer leaks out of the page and into the head of the reader. Without wishing to give anything away, when a solution is discovered it seems only right that for the protagonist it is almost as bad a prospect as the haunting itself.
The compelling narrative of this short novella means that it is very likely to be devoured in one sitting. However – just like the plot itself once the letter writer has freed themselves from the entity’s clutches – there will almost certainly be a disturbing coda. As you go to bed the evening after finishing it, the story will swim up to the surface of your mind and you will start to wonder how disturbed tonight’s sleep is going to be – and if it is, why.
And if you’re really unlucky you might wake up in the night.