DarkFuse has released some very good books by Tim Curran recently so I was happy to see that a new novella by the author, “Deadlock,” was scheduled for release in May. Tim Curran and a haunted boat? Intriguing.
Charlie Petty has a reputation for being a man who is not afraid of anything. The truth is that Charlie knows fear but, like any good gambler, he knows how to hide his feelings and face them down. Unfortunately, Charlie’s legendary courage is greater than his gambling ability and he finds himself deep in debt to Arturo. Charlie is not only $50,000 in debt to the ruthless man but he has been having an affair with his wife as well. Still, Charlie comes when summoned and listens to what Arturo has to say.
Arturo had taken a boat as a prize to settle a debt only to find that he is unable to use the boat. It seems that the boat has a history and every sailor he can find is unwilling to set sail on it due to its checkered past. Charlie is offered a way to get out of his financial struggles. All he has to do is spend one night alone on the boat that no one else is brave enough to stay on overnight. Charlie feels like there is a catch to this simple task but he knows that he must say no. Now that he feels his luck is beginning to turn for the better, he must test that luck and brave the ghosts of the boat to prove his courage as well as his ability to continue to live off of his daring deeds. He can only hope that this will be the first gamble of a new life rather than the worst bet that he has ever made.
“Deadlock” is a very dark and scary novella that has a setting that feels both familiar and original at the same time. The substitution of a boat instead of a haunted house is an intriguing idea that helps the story from becoming cliché. Curran crafts a tale that is very dark both in its atmosphere as well as in the ghosts that exist both in the boat as well as within Charlie’s mind. There are two levels of haunting here. One is in the very real ghosts that dwell within the stark passages of the boat. The second, and maybe more frightening, are the ghosts that exist in Charlie’s mind which he must battle with whenever he faces danger. Charlie must overcome not only the supernatural but the darkness that dwells in the back of his mind if he is going to survive the night.
Tim Curran shows his mastery of the horror genre as well as his understanding of the human mind in “Dreadlock.” The story is both oppressive in its heavy atmosphere of terror as well as entertaining in the horror that lurks around every corner. “Deadlock” reminded me of the gothic horror stories of years ago that did not have to resort to shock in order to terrify. The terror in these pages has a way of subtly creeping into the readers mind and taking root. While the story is terrifying while being read, its true power does not come to full fruition until the last word is read and the reader turns out the lights only to find that sleep is impossible because every quiet noise in the dark just may be a harbinger of evil things to come.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced review copy. “Deadlock” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in May and is available for preorder now.