Sunday, 6 May 2018

Short Review: 'The Atrocities' by Jeremy C. Shipp

Nightmare maze? Parents not accepting their child's death? A governess with something to hide? Sign me up!! The Atrocities has an amazing premise and despite its brevity I was entirely ready to be amazed and scared by Jeremy C. Shipp. And to a certain extent he did dazzle me, while also leaving me wanting towards the end. Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 17/4/2018
Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Jeremy Shipp brings you THE ATROCITIES, a haunting gothic fantasy of a young ghost's education 
When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn't suffer. 
But Isabella's parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella's... condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor. 
Or is there...?
Coming in at a little more than 100 pages, Shipp manages to pack quite a punch into The Atrocities. From the very beginning I loved his imagery and the spookyway in which he described it. Just look at the opening lines:
Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sore the size of teacups.
Those lines betray a knack for the spooky as well as a sense of humour. There were many scenes in this novella where I could see what he was describing. As the new governess, Ms Valdez, arrives at the mansion she encounters a hellscape of odd statues and a disturbed family. Nothing is quite as it seems here, and neither is everything right with Ms Valdez either. Shipp gives us something of an insight into her character and history, but sadly this didn't entirely fit into the Gotthic vibe of the rest of the novella but felt more like a 21st century horror movie.

Shipp creates a stunning atmosphere in the first half of The Atrocities.There is such a foreboding feel to everything,  so many questions are raised and in such an interesting way that I was incredibly gripped by this novella. There are a lot of things which aren't resolved towards the end of the novella. Although I enjoy an author that trusts their reader to do some sleuthing of their own to figure out the details The Atrocities left too much in the dark meaning that a lot of details seemed more like random embellishments rather than part of the plot. At a certain point in the novella Shipp lost me for a moment. It was almost like I missed a page or two and now wasn't entirely sure of how the characters had gotten to where they were, why they were doing what they were doing. In the end the finale of The Atrocities fell a little bit flat for me and I would've loved to see this worked out into something more substantial. Add another hundred pages and you'd have yourself a stunning Gothic thriller that satisfies completely.

I give this novella...

3 Universes!

I really enjoyed the first half or so of The Atrocities and completely sank into the esoteric and dark world Shipp creates. However, when it came to tying up all the loose ends and delivering as brilliant an ending as his opening, Shipp left me hanging a bit. I will definitely keep an eye out for his next book however. I'd recommend this to fans of Gothic and Thriller novels.

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