He tweets from @stevestred
Steve Stred with his novel The Stranger offers us a detailed meditation in horror.
Stred has been able to siphon off the tropes of various horror sources such as films, books and real life horrors – of what makes monsters of men; and blended them to perfection with his offering of The Stranger.
The Stranger follows the story of a family which is coming apart at the seams as the children get older, the strains of married life are taking their toll and the fabric that holds them together comes undone. Their only hope is a trip away, to rekindle their love, to discover each other once more – but this trip inadvertently sends them spiralling out of control, has their legs kicking out and touching only air as they tumble through the story – has their screams silenced in their chests as they’re knocked off their feet and come crashing down around the masterpiece of terror that Stred has perfectly executed.
The family are isolated, something that Stred has accomplished very well, there seems to be no way out, which makes the action and following devastation seem viable and also all consuming – they can’t call for help as they know it won’t come and so they are forced to face this terror head on. It’s something that Stred weaves so well, his stories are often set in bleak and isolated locations, aiding his storytelling and causing the reader to feel claustrophobic and angst ridden – with no chance of escape from Stred’s words and stories.
The family set out on a nice afternoon trip into the forest, and soon discover an abandoned building, they find something there, something out of place, something alluring – and instead of leaving it where it is, they decide to bring it home, but what they didn’t count on was something wants it back.
Stred has delivered another cracker of a story, haunting and complex, devastatingly raw and deliciously macabre – when Stred writes horror boy does he write it well. The Stranger has the most unsettling of prose and this aided by the deeply rich story and folklore elements that elevates this story from just another horror story into a tomb of horror not to be missed!
I felt elements of the horror that one takes from The Poltergeist – the native American theme probably aiding this comparison, but there is also the brutality of Clive Barker and the elegance of Peter Straub in Stred’s prose – there is a reason for the darkness and that’s what sets this book apart from others – there isn’t darkness for darkness sake, there is a deep rooted meaning behind the troubles Stred writes about and what he makes his characters endure.
The Stranger is a perfect slice of horror – told in a fresh, bold and unique way. Steve Stred is going places so don’t be a stranger and check him out – he’ll scare the living shit out of you!
The Stranger is available here.
Steve has had works featured in 100 Word Zombie Bites, 100 Word Horrors 3, and Forest of Fear.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can read our review of Steve Stred’s ‘Piece of Me‘ here.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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