A true stylistic master of the paperback horror novel lost in the stacks for no discernible reason, we are blessed that Valancourt Books is reissuing several of Greenhall's books (and can only hope they get the rights to the rest of his works too).
This book isn't overtly horrific in the sense of a gorefest or lots of crazy action with monsters, psychos, or hauntings (oh my)—instead, it is the type of book that reminds you why horror is great, or rather, what truly makes something scary.
It's that space where you as the reader are held suspended, that tension or hesitation between knowing whether something is based in reality or whether the supernatural has taken over. Greenhall holds the reader in this gap during Elizabeth and doesn't let go.
There are lots of other things to distract you during the course of this novel, slim as it may be. The first being the narrator and titular character herself, a very cold and calculating fourteen-year-old who sees the world in black and white and sees people as little more than the skin they inhabit, the bad habits they possess, and how she might use them to her own advantage.
But not everything is as it seems and there are layers to this story that are certainly not apparent at first reading. It is almost unbelievable how concise Greenhall is, how perfectly he chose his words. He is probably the exact opposite of Stephen King in general writing style—extreme word economy. (No diss to King, who can churn out a short story to perfection, but his novels do tend to run on the long side, if you know what I mean.)
This book delves so deeply into the mind of young Elizabeth—it is astonishing really, and feels so natural, while at the same time superbly unsettling. The strange atmosphere is maintained throughout the novel, and it isn't just the weird coldness of Elizabeth. It is the literary quality of the writing, the unique and unexpected turn of phrase that jolts you, keeping you on your toes, as though the book itself is like a snake poised to strike.
Assistant editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.