“Book Review: Who’s There?”
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
An excellent collection of short stories to ensnare and horrify
The reader is put on edge from the very first story in Who’s There? Author Dimas Rio’s vivid descriptions cause reality and imagination to bleed together, resulting in a mesmerizing collection of fear, confusion, and true horror—on the part of both the reader and of the main characters.
“Adam could feel the creatures inside him stirred to life, as if awakened by a mantra. The scaled, egg-shaped head looked up, hissed and got ready to tighten its twist around his heart, which was now pounding industriously.”
These powerful descriptions are present throughout the rest of Rio’s stories. All characters within them face fear of some sort, both real and imagined. Whether it’s fear of marriage, of nonsensical happenings, or of spousal abuse, fear is aroused and dissected on the page before us. It’s a fascinating way of looking at and approaching fear.
This collection interacts with themes of the gothic and horror genres such as femininity and the transformation of self. In particular, the first story has similarities to Radcliffe’s The Monk—featuring a character consumed by his internal struggles who takes external action against the women in their life. While the plot itself is entirely different, the conflict in the character and desire to not be utterly overwhelmed by their own demonic creatures is consistent. Readers of the gothic and horror genres have much to enjoy in Rio’s writing.
These stories have the cultural influence of Asia, with several stories drawing on folklore and tradition to extend the narrative. Where possible, the author has helpfully included footnotes to explain terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. It’s a nice touch to an already positive reading experience.
However, the short nature of a few of these stories means at times the reader may struggle to orient themselves within the narrative. This is not unusual within the horror genre, especially as we have to get to know these characters each time a new story opens, but delicacy in finding this balance is sometimes lacking in Who’s There? The unsettling nature of this horror means that some of this lack of grounding is vital to achieve the story’s goal, but lack of clarity in other areas adds more to my readerly displacement than to my enjoyment.
Overall, this strong collection of stories richly explores horrors both real and imagined in the human experience. And I can’t help but recommend it. Cultural intricacies add to the vibrancy of these stories and make for a unique journey for readers who may be unfamiliar with the folklore in Asia.
Category: Horror short stories
Paperback: 171 pages
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