Shameless promotion time. This is one of my favourite reviews for my short story ‘Watcher’. It’s a four star review, but then not all good reviews have to be five stars. So long as they’re honest in what they say then they’re all gratefully received. The story has since undergone an update, so hopefully some, if not all, of the kinks have been ironed out.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you shuddering and filthy… in a good way., July 4, 2013
By Patrick Dixon (Carson City, NV) – See all my reviews
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This review is from: Watcher (Kindle Edition)
It’s not often that we get to crawl inside the mind of a killer and stay there; rarer still that the cesspit is exposed as much more than an excuse for random blood and guts. The Watcher allows us both.
A piece of short fiction, The Watcher goes into perversely loving detail as we are presented with the titular character’s attack on a young woman… and the surprising aftermath. I’m known to have a sick enjoyment of things that leave me feeling filthy and unclean – tend to rate such things as being much more difficult to achieve than the usual happy thoughts or scary stuff; 8MM, for example, is one of my favorite movies for this reason – and this managed that feat quite easily. The language, the hints of what led to The Watcher’s state of mind and his increasing mental instability as the siege continues were all well done and vividly presented, focusing on smell and taste – I’ll never look at gumdrops quite the same way again, I’ll tell you that – as much as the usual sight and sound.
Only a few small quibbled prevented me from flagging this as five stars; first, some of the language is a trifle awkward or repetitive. Not a huge amount, and not really what it was docked for, but there was more than one moment where I paused upon seeing the same word for the third or fourth time on a page. Second was the focus on the victim; her backstory was interesting enough but I felt it toned it back too much when we popped into her head to “take a break” as it were from The Watcher; disgusting though he may be, I think there would have been a little more “oomph” if we were with him the whole time. Lastly, the ending. I like it, I do, and part of me says that it makes the victim’s chapters necessary in its way, but I felt it was a little too foreshadowed and predictable by the time it came. It’s not all bad, as it at least doesn’t take the typical slasher-film route, nor does it give you the snuggle-bunny feeling of “It’s all okay, now,” so bonus points for being original. Just not quite what I was hoping for.
There’s also the tightrope issue of wanting more. Short fiction always has that abyss yawning below, while the author skips across, trying to keep a balance between word-glut and not telling enough; to be certain, leaving the readers wanting to know more is usually a good thing, but at the same time too much left unsaid can sometimes stifle the enjoyment. I think this one stays on the “good questions left” side of things, but I’d still like to see more. Expansion on The Watcher’s youth and early “career” would be a fascinating read, I suspect. While one can make some educated guesses on why he is the way he is (there’s certainly a handful of clues scattered about), the warped part of me would have liked more of the psychology behind him. Of course, that could very easily balloon up to novel-length, which might kill the charm of being inside The Watcher’s head.
Overall, though, a pleasing read for those who don’t mind getting their hands (and minds) dirty. Great presentation, good characterization, and a twist ending put it well ahead of the pack.
If you do get round to reading ‘Watcher’ sometime in the future, and you enjoy it, please take the time to write a brief review, they all help enormously. Feel free to drop me a line too, to let me know. Thank you.