Author: Scott Nicholson
Published: Haunted Computer Books (2008)
Genre: Southern Gothic; Horror
I'm not sure if I'm written a review for a novella before, but I guess now is as good a time as any.
After I was asked to read and review one of Scott Nicholson's new novels, I browsed through the e-books I already had on file and found this novella he wrote a couple of years ago, which I had yet to read. I can't remember how I got it. I don't download pirated material, so I can only assume it was a free download posted somewhere on one of the blogs I visit--heck, maybe it was his.
It's a brief glimpse into the grief of a rural family, the Ridgehorns, that has lost its patriarch. Everyone is collected in the living room of the farmhouse and kind of fumbling through the proper way to discuss his untimely death and what's to happen to the inheritance.
The story is steeped in that rough around the edges Southern charm with a Gothic bent that creeps up on the reader about midway through. The protagonist, Roby Snow, is a young man vicariously related to the family and lends a hand in the kitchen watching over the plethora of food that's been laid out, but which little is being eaten. He seems to have an invested interest in what's to happen to the family now that the father is dead, but it's not insidious and seems to be sincere in his concern for certain members of the family.
Through much of the first half of the story, it felt like there was this odd preoccupation with food. The first scene was in the kitchen, so that stands to reason, but it seemed to go beyond that and I couldn't figure out if it was going anywhere or not. Fortunately, it started to make sense later on, and I was able to quit thinking about that and just enjoy the story.
If you grew up in a rural area, you'll probably recognize a couple of your neighbors in this story--I did. It's a good story with very good characters, but not necessarily good as in likable. If you come across this story, give it a whirl. You might be pleasantly surprised.