Stevie killed her mother at the age of 18. It was an accident, but she was the one driving the car and is certain that everyone blames her. The accident nearly killed Stevie, too, and, when she was close to death, she found herself in a room filled with everyone she’d ever slighted. There was none of this bright welcoming light everyone talked about, just a bunch of bitter and vengeful people in a cold and smelly room. Stevie becomes obsessed with this room and keeps trying to go back there, but soon her own experiences aren’t enough…
I suppose that ‘Slights’ by Kaaron Warren would be shelved in the horror section if it had to be categorised but it was quite different to any horror book I’ve previously read. In many ways, this is actually a book about depression and about coping with the death of loved ones. It makes for quite grim reading at times and doesn’t really stray from this dark tone.
The horror element comes in with the visions that Stevie has when she is close to death and the lengths to which she resorts to find out more about it. This is quite understated in many ways, although there are points where Stevie comes across as a very nasty piece of work. She is a character who seems to lack any empathy with others and who has developed sociopathic tendencies since the death of her mother. She’s probably not a character you’re going to like, but that’s rather the point.
There are some nice little cameos from other characters, like the sweet little old lady Stevie meets on the bus and Stevie’s brother, Peter. None of these felt particularly well developed but this could be a reflection of the fact that, to Stevie, they aren’t that important and people not worth lavishing too much attention on.
I think if you’re looking for real horror then you might be disappointed. There isn’t really anything too shocking and the suicide attempts come across as desperate and sad rather than horrific. What it does contain are some interesting ideas on the afterlife and a fairly intimate portrait of a woman living with depression who stoops to some very low levels to try and feel something.
I’m still not sure if I liked this book and it certainly wasn’t the gruesome serial killer horror that the blurb led me to expect. However, bits of it were intriguing and I didn’t ever feel like I wanted to give up with it and read something else so I guess it must have been ok, though I don’t think I could honestly say that I ‘enjoyed’ it.
‘Slights’ is something a little different that might take you out of your comfort zone and it is probably worth taking a chance on it for the short few hours it will take to read.
(pub: Angry Robot. 367 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-00732-242-8)
check out website: www.angryrobotbooks.com