Inkshares. May 2021. 500p. ISBN 9781950301218. pap. $18.99. HORROR
DEBUT In 1974, a group of students join their infamous psychology professor for a groundbreaking study into whether Smithy, a chimp, can be taught to have spontaneous communication through sign language. Housed in a run-down mansion in otherwise glamorous Newport, RI, the crew is focused but isolated. When strange and dangerous things start happening, is it that the house is haunted by nefarious ghosts that only Smithy can see, or are the humans paying a price for the consequences of their animal experimentation? Told in an extremely effective epistolary style that allows multiple points of view and formats to deliver the details, Desiree’s book begins at a place of extreme unease and never allows readers to get comfortable, even before a supernatural possibility is revealed. This is a debut novel that demands attention, combining a realistic and unsettling frame with a perfect horror ending that resolves the conflict but leaves the fear open enough that it spills out of the pages. This original haunted house tale, with a unique plot and compellingly vivid characters, moves from uneasy to creepy to all-out “keep the lights on” terror.
VERDICT For fans of the space where true crime, paranormal phenomena, and horror overlap, such as in the fiction of Clay McLeod Chapman and Emily M. Danforth.
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