A second novella by DarkFuse in November brings another book with a great cover and the promise of a terrifying story inside. As with every DarkFuse release, I started “Shattered” by C.S. Kane with high expectations.
Liam and Stacey are forced to move to the city due to Liam’s new job. While they embrace the opportunity for change, it also means a tightening of their budget as Stacey no longer has a job and has enrolled in the local university to further her education. This tight budget leads them to take an apartment in a rundown building rather than the place that they desire. Still, it is the start of a new phase of their lives and it can take time to achieve their dreams. Nightmares, unfortunately, can be much quicker.
Stacey is immediately assaulted by nightmares as well as visions and phantom noises during the day that cause stress to the point that she has to drop her classes. Not only is the building seemingly falling apart with its heating only working on occasion, she learns that she now lives on one of the worst streets in the city. All of this is bad enough but gets even worse when Stacey talks to the old woman who lives next door and learns of the buildings horrific past. Now that Stacey has an idea of what is causing her problems, which others have passed off as a stress-related breakdown or panic attack, she must figure out a way to end the terror that has come into her life and threatens to tear it apart.
DarkFuse is scheduled to release two novellas in November and both of them, “Shattered” as well as “Lurker” by Gary Fry, are very good example of horror that is not right up in the reader’s face but rather works on the reader’s mind to puzzle out the terror on his own. This type of story needs enough ambiguity to allow the reader to create a personal monster and as such is very difficult to achieve. “Shattered” is a good example of when this work. Throughout the story, Kane builds the tension and an atmosphere of horror that slowly grows toward the tipping point. The mixture of the supernatural with the mundane frustrations of the building allows Kane to control the pace of the story as well as draw the reader deeper into the story by counterbalancing the supernatural with the mundane. This allows Kane to plant the seed of terror in the reader’s mind that is primed to be released only when she determines it is time to set the monster free.
“Shattered” is not a great book but rather a very good one and one that is written in a style that is difficult to write and thus not very common in modern literature. In a genre that often relies on shock value to create terror, Kane shows that it is possible to draw on the darkness of the reader’s mind to create terror rather than throw gratuitous violence and gore on the page to manufacture terror rather than create it. In the hands of a lesser author, it would be easy for a story like “Shattered” to become unfocused and lose its edge. Kane shows deftness in handling the story as well as a deep understanding of what horror is all about and is able to shape the story into one that is sure to resonate with the reader. “Shattered” continues in the long line of quality horror fiction published by DarkFuse and is sure to satisfy fans of the genre who have come to expect great things from this publisher and its authors.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced reading copy. “Shattered” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in November.