Slights by Kaaron Warren
Review copy courtesy of Capricorn Link
Angry Robots, 2009
Synopsis- STEVIE IS A KILLER. But she brings her victims back to life to demand of them: “WHAT DO YOU SEE?” Now she’s about to find out for herself… After an accident in which her mother dies, she has a near-death experience, and finds herself in a room full of people – everyone she’s ever pissed off. They clutch at her, scratch and tear at her. But she finds herself drawn back to this place, again and again, determined to unlock its secrets. Which means she has to die, again and again. And she starts to wonder whether other people see the same room …when they die.
Review- I have two words to describe Slights, seriously disturbing.
Slights is a horror novel by Australian author, Kaaron Warren. Not typically a fan of anything horror- be it books or movies- I set this one aside to read for the eclectic reader’s challenge. I’ve previously read Walking The Tree by Warren which is a fantasy novel and knew that I was going to be in for some weird (and imaginative) reading. And I was.
The novel is written in first person, in the perspective of Stevie who just so happens to be a sociopathic serial killer. Each chapter focuses on a different year of her life, beginning at age eighteen and ending around age 35 years. The opening chapter details the car ‘accident ‘that takes her mother’s life. It was Stevie’s eighteenth birthday and she was driving. Though she’s not particularly distressed by the loss of her mother, she is intrigued by her near-death experience and this becomes a fixation of hers throughout her life. She calls it the ‘dark room’ and it’s the place that all the people who she‘slighted’ come to visit.
It seems Stevie had quite a dysfunctional family only she wasn’t really aware of it. She seemed to idolise her father who was a police officer and died on the job. She always believed her older brother Peter was her mother’s favourite and the siblings seem to have an oddly loyal relationship. When she inherits the family home she takes to digging up the backyard and within the soil she finds various artefacts that hint at the atrocities that have occurred within the confines of the property. Stevie discovers that she is far more like her father than she ever thought.
Her birthdays seem to be quite significant for her, she tends to spend them in isolation and in her obsession to access the ‘dark room’she engages in self-harming behaviour resulting in near suicide on many occasions. As her fixation deepens, she begins to target vulnerable people to find out what they see when they are on the brink of death.
Did I say this book was disturbing? Well, it is. But it is also really well written. Stevie is selfish, crude, cruel and completely unlikeable as a protagonist and yet there were times I just couldn’t put the book down. My fiancé even commented on the bizarre faces I was pulling when reading this story because Stevie outright repulsed me. I experienced a perverted sense of intrigue; I wanted to know what she would do next, how far she would go. In saying this I am a huge fan of the T.V series Dexter which again is disturbing and yet so fascinating. I had similar feelings with Slights.
There’s no happy ending to Slights, after all it’s a horror novel not a romance but I couldn’t help but feel sadness at her pitiful life, the lack of insight into those around her and it was a little scary to think there could be someone just like her living up the street from me!
It was difficult for me to rate this novel, because I really despised Stevie- but it was a very engaging story and written in an unusual format that I can’t discount. I’m glad I picked up this book for the challenge, but I can’t say I’ll be delving into this genre again anytime soon. I think I’d much prefer a good night’s sleep, thank you very much. Over the three days I read this book, I had bizarre dreams, even waking up on one occasion feeling a little panicked. May just be a coincidence, but I think not. If you’re a fan of the genre or the Dexter television (or book) series then this one might just be for you. Slights isa captivating horror novel by Australian author, KaaronWarren that probably shouldn’t read at night, alone.
Slights can be purchased at Fishpond and other leading book retailers.
This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge and The Eclectic Reader Challenge: