Tuesday, February 15, 2011
by Kaaron Warren
Published by Angry Robot
Slights is the story of Stevie Searle and begins when she is eighteen. At first blush, this book appears to be a coming of age novel, but it isn’t long before the reader, with a sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach, realizes that this is a memoir of madness; a tale of living and love replaced by an obsession about what happens after we die, and a deftly written one at that. Stevie is a serial killer, but unlike Bundy and Gacy, she's more of a "mad scientist" type. She seeks information she is not meant to have, and will do whatever is necessary to get it with no regard for the consequences.
Her first unsuccessful suicide attempt provided a glimpse into her own afterlife--a small gray room crammed with all the people in her life that she'd slighted up to that point--and she's slighted many, and goes out of her way to do so. Subsequent "controlled" suicide attempts allow her to revisit her "gray room" several more times just to see who's there--to see the new people whom she slighted between visits. Her theory is that every time she slights someone she takes a little piece of their soul--and that's what ends up in her gray room… her personal hell.
Once she has this information about her own afterlife, she sets out to see if everyone else's is similar to hers, and the killing begins. She tries to kill her victims softly so that she can revive them in order to find out what they saw, not often successfully. Luckily, she has a large back yard…
Stevie is a hard character to like. She's even hard to feel sorry for. She's so disconnected from the rest of humanity that it's alarming how she goes out of her way to be rude and nasty to everyone she meets. She makes plain her desire to be distanced from humanity, then is illogical enough to believe that someone will remember her birthday. In many situations, she will tell you "Here's what should have happened" and detail that; only to follow it with, "Here's what happened" and describe that. Both descriptions are equally dispassionate. It is her creeping, relentless, and gradually worsening disturbed mind and distorted life that glued the book to my hands, even though it caused me more than a moment or two of queasiness.
Aside from Stevie, there are few likeable characters in this grim debut novel. That being said, it's also a brilliantly written book that will not allow you to walk away from it. This is psychological horror at its very best.
If you're a fan of horror that's so well written and flows like a symphony, you'll want to pick up a copy of this book.
And I dare you to put it down!
Buy it here.
Reviewed by Carson Buckingham
Carson Buckingham is a writer living in the great American Southwest and she reviews horror/paranormal suspense novels.