Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan

First a note on Book Wars - the winner last week was, hands down, Demon in My View. Total landslide. With that being said, I'm currently suspending Book Wars due to lack of participation. I appreciated all of the feedback I got with the survey I did however long ago but I'm just not seeing that kind of participation translating to the actual feature. So thank you to those who did vote but for now, it's not something I'm going to carry on. Maybe in the future.

Published September 6, 2010.

Two sisters, Jennifer and Louise, return to their remote holiday cabin after a day at the seaside. But little do they know they're being surrounded. Shortly after their arrival, the girls willcome face to face with THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE. When the assailants make their intentions known, things take a shockingly terrible turn and an intense battle for survival will begin. (from

First and foremost, this is a self-published book. The only reason I decided to give it a chance is because the premise sounded halfway decent and it's super short. Twenty-four pages. Yeah, I can sacrifice for that. I've read longer in my writing classes so why not? But don't expect this to be a trend. This was a special exception to my rule.

While it wasn't horrible, it wasn't all that great either. The writing is, for the most part, awkward, the pacing is erratic, the characters aren't very likable and the climax comes way too quickly. The explanation for the strangers outside is very rushed and just dumped on the reader the last few paragraphs of the story. It just didn't work for me.

The start up is way too slow and I just couldn't care much for either sister right from the beginning. Both of them had very negative outlooks on life and while there's an explanation for one, it still didn't endear me to the character, even in hindsight. I mean, the younger didn't know how to look for a phone number. Really? Guess what? You're getting pushed out the door and fed to the strangers. When the deaths started happening, I was cheering a little.

Just overall the story didn't work for me, as a story in and of itself and as a horror short. I didn't feel any tension, I couldn't feel the characters' emotions and the resolution was just so far out there that it didn't fit. I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept it. This one certainly needs a good critique group of solid horror writers. As much as I love to read it, I've all but given up trying to write it because I'm not any good at it so unfortunately I can't offer tips. Horror is exceptionally hard to write. The pacing has to be perfect, the emotions have to be real and the characters need to connect. I just think this story fell far short of all of that.

On the plus side, I am reading her novella, Drowned Sorrow, and it's working out much better. While I still have some of the same issues with the characters and writing, I'm finding the story itself more compelling but we'll see how the ending goes. That can make or break all of it. Look out for that review soon.

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