Akin to seeing a film where people have their knees drilled or their feet cut off, the topics violate our sense of the family and personal relationships. Hence why horror writers have used them so many times to accentuate their own tales.
Enter J.C Moore with his entry, The Repayment.
Running less than 100 pages, this book tells the story of Sarah Ross. A woman living in a decaying farmhouse, she is clearly traumatised by the years of abuse from her estranged husband, David. Her life is falling apart as she neglects friends and is close to getting fired from her job. At least she has Rodney, who lives in the basement and eats meat.
The choice to tell the story through third person narrative threw me at first as it seemed that the first-person perspective would have seemed the most natural way to depict the trauma that Sarah is going through, with third person being a distant by comparison. However, I was won over by the compelling depiction of a woman at the end of her tether, the tight story and the atmospheric setting that made me think of a line from Robert Leckie about how “It was a darkness without time. It was an impenetrable darkness”.
And, like all good horror stories, it’s even more fun on second reading.
Necessary pre-Halloween reading.
J.C Moore, 2023, The Repayment. Missing Star Books. ISBN-13: 979-8372966895
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.