“In the Prison of our Grief” by S. E. Amadis

This is a story of disturbed people doing disturbing things to each other. It is also a story of complicated plot twists, and there is a tenuous supernatural thread running through it, as well. In a search for horror and suspense, this author has pretty much thrown in the kitchen sink and everything in it.

Great and gritty descriptive details add to the horror of the situation, although the unfortunate misuse of multi-syllable descriptors like “a rusty axe clutched avariciously in his hands,” somewhat reduces the effectiveness of this artistry. But in general there is enough pain, blood, torture, and mental and physical agony to keep the most seasoned horror fan happy.

This author has pulled off the interesting technique of having one character’s POV in the first person and the rest in third person. It’s a tricky stunt, but in this case I think it keeps our emotions centred on the main character amid the other shifting personalities.

The main device of the story is the idea of people not being who they seem to be. People who are supposed to be dead come alive, and get killed, and turn out not to be who we thought they are, and then the real person turns up. Back and forth, so many times that the reader starts to lose track of what’s going on. The unfortunate part about having too twisty a plot is that we lose track of the logic of it, at which point we suspect that the author is tossing in twists randomly to create tension. The moment we reach that stage the tension starts to drop.

The bottom line is that, to keep the reader involved, even the most fantastically horrible stories must be to some degree believable and logical. This novel teeters on the brink of losing us. Recommended horror fans who want their gore and aren’t fussy about how they get it.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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