Our Biggest Fears – is my first outing with Bo Chappell and it won’t be my last.
Bo Chappel has been able to create a great homage to late 80’s early 90’s slashers and that’s the feeling I got from this book, it’s a quick hack and slash horror fest – including your usual tropes of horror (slow killer, graphic death scenes, young people with witty comments, overcoming the odds – a masked assailant). The good thing is I loved the late 80’s and early 90’s slashers genre and Chappell does a great job at rendering this with his words and his style of prose.
If you buy into the whole slasher vibe then you buy into the language and conversations that one would expect to find in this genre – and Chappell does a great job at bringing this out in his characters with his conversations seeming like they had come out of a Kevin Smith movie – also the prose is littered with popular culture references that are used I believe to give the reader a feeling of nostalgia and bring them into the unraveling of the story and make them feel a connection to our protagonists.
For me though there were some holes in the work which I couldn’t overlook when it came to rating this work. The opening of the novella sets the reader up for what is to come and the deaths were greatly executed (pardon the pun) – Chappell has a knowledge about these things (I’d assume he is a horror fan) and how to put them into the mind of the reader like a director puts across the feelings he wants to evoke with images on the film. What I also enjoyed was the humour, it was a great blend of American and English and this was reference by the mention of British comedy such as The Young Ones and The Mighty Boosh.
The ending was sort of lost on me – which is a shame. It appeared it had no grand conclusion – that the violence and this visitor had no reason, it just happens (with some more explanation this could have been explored and it would have meant that I’d possibly have had more insight into why or what happened – I was just left with the feeling of Oh…). I know there were past hurts and pain here – but I wanted more, I wanted to feel and see and understand it with more clarity, although there is an apparition of this, I wanted to see it in Technicolor!
It was a bit bare on the bones for me, if it was lengthened slightly and some of these aspects I’ve mentioned were drawn out or examined in more detail, it would be a cracking novella – as it stands, it’s a good read. I guess I just wanted more and the plot holes that caused me issues could have if given time been looked at in more detail.
Having said that it was an enjoyable quick read and I’ll seek out more of his work when it arrives, there were some gems in his prose and the book starts with a chilling first line that sets up the whole story…
‘The line between a house and a home is drawn by those who dwell there. everything else is irrelevant.’
Our Biggest Fears is available here.
Bo Chappell is the best selling writer of Year 47, which spawned two additional works; By Year’s End, a prequel anthology, and Missing Days, a companion guide both feature some of the best writers from the indie horror community. He also has a children’s book, Once You Get To Know Me, which uses classic monsters to teach lessons of acceptance and celebrate individuality.
His work has also been featured in Aphotic Realm magazine, as well as on The Grey Rooms and NoSleep Podcasts (the latter originally featuring on Kendall Reviews!)
You can find links to all his available work on his website at www.bochappell.wordpress.com
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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