Book Reviews

I suppose as a newbie writer, I have to take the good with the bad and learn from them. Bravely I post snippets of my first reviews.

Guy at the Bar

Sandra Thompson

CreateSpace, 59 pages, (paperback) $9.99, 978-146-1038474 (Reviewed: May, 201l)

The suspense begins on page two of this novella-style mystery story as Sheila is being followed from an English pub by a menacing character she met at the bar. She dashes through her small country village on the banks of the river Swale and successfully escapes, only to learn the next day that the man, identified as Guy Davies, was found dead. That evening, Sheila starts to have night visions of the man, who tells her he’s not dead yet. His young widow is equally confused by what has happened, and the balance of the book explores the possibility that Guy’s twin, Gareth, is somehow involved with the man’s untimely demise. The twins’ mother claimed that Gareth, who would “have episodes” as a child, had disappeared some 15 years earlier at the beach in Scarborough while the family was vacationing. The police never found him, and it was presumed that he had drowned.

 

Girl on the Beach

Sandra Thompson

CreateSpace, 74 pages, (paperback) $14.99, 9781456568900 Reviewed: June, 2011

In Girl on the Beach, Sandra Thompson has the makings of an eerie yet compelling tale of a little girl’s terrifying secret premonition.

Set in the summer of 1964, the novella opens on the final day of a beach holiday on the coast of England and is told in the voice of 7-year-old Sheila. This device is only partly successful. While the musings and ramblings of the little girl during the fateful few days could have been effective to better understand her confusion, here they become tiresome as readers wade through exhaustive detail to discern what is relevant to the story and what is not.

On the whole, Girl on the Beach is a near miss. It opens strong and pulls readers into what feels like an episode of Twilight Zone with evocative writing and good foreshadowing. As Sheila waits for ice cream, the sky goes dark, and a fireball crashes into the ocean. Chaos and sirens surround her, and she cannot find her mother. Somber people walk out of the water and begin to file past. At first, she thinks they are survivors but then fearfully wonders if they are actually dead. Then, just as suddenly as the horrifying scene appears, it vanishes and all in as before. The adults dismiss her story as sunstroke, but a sense of foreboding has been established and the stage is set.

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