A Place For Sinners: Aaron Dries
Reviewed By Aiden Merchant
- Paperback: 394 pages
- Publisher: Poltergeist Press (15 July 2019)
This year, I have been introduced to numerous indie authors that have blown my mind; Aaron Dries is one of them. Never have I read horror quite like his brand. Maybe I just haven’t lived (as some of your diehards might say), but I grew up on horror in the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz – they are so very tame in comparison to Dries.
First, I checked out House of Sighs, which left me (what’s the youthful term? Is it – ) shook. I felt sick during multiple scenes, and there were quite a few. Never has a book done that to me. I wasn’t even sure how to process it. With the exception of excitement and interest – which are common in reading – I haven’t ever really felt such emotion when reading something before that book; it was my first taste of pure terror in written form. I thought I had read work that was gripping before, but I suppose I was wrong; it feels like Dries’ words are literally clenching down on your shoulders as a cackle echoes into your ear as you read.
So, naturally, I knew I wanted to try him again (even if House of Sighs left me a little scared). Next, I went with the sequel, The Sound of His Bones Breaking. That one didn’t bother me until the very end; but that final sequence had my heart fluttering with anxiety.
A few weeks ago, in the midst of toppling over a stack of TBR, I realized I had A Place for Sinners, set for a reissue via Poltergeist Press. I didn’t make it my priority at first, but I did start reading it slowly. About halfway through, I finally moved the title to the top of my list. And here’s the thing: reading an Aaron Dries’ novel is like inviting a nightmare to crawl up under your fingernails, dig its way up your arms, through your shoulders, and down your spine. You’ll tense up, shiver, and quiver, and finally ask yourself, “Jesus, what did I just read?” A Place for Sinners is most likely the most uncomfortable and unnerving thing I have ever read.
Now, granted, I had my minor qualms with the book. There was at least one sequence (maybe two) in which I got a bit confused as to what was actually happening. Also, I hate the death of children, especially when they are as gruesomely detailed as they are in Dries’ work. That sort of thing unsettles me so much so that I nearly put down the book (same thing happened with House of Sighs, and the end of The Sound of His Bones Breaking). Now, I get the point of it; this is horror, ladies and gentleman, and dying kids will shock most of us to our core. Nevertheless, it does push me away from a title.
My complaints aside, it is hard to deny the talent in Dries’ writing. The man has a profound and unique way with words. They are darkly poetic and hypnotizing, the sort of thing I could never produce myself. The fucking nightmares this guy must have to write this stuff…I worry about him. I mean…the shark. I don’t think I will ever forget that character. She became one of the most haunting creations I’ve ever followed.
“The color was RED.”
Yeah, there’s plenty of blood in this one. And you’ve got to love Aaron’s author note at the end: “The island of Koh Mai Phaaw…does not exist…even if it did, I wouldn’t recommend you visit there. For, um, obvious reason.”
No shit, Aaron! That place is horrific!
Horror fans, do yourself a favor and look up this Aussie talent. Because that’s exactly what he is: talent.
A Place For Sinners
Sometimes, survival is a sin.
Amity Collins, a 20-year-old deaf woman, and her gay brother Caleb, have lived a sheltered life since the death of their father thirteen years ago, a day of gunshots and wild dogs. Now the time has come to escape their mother’s hoarded home in Australia, and a history of trauma they haven’t been able to reconcile—until now. Their adventure abroad isn’t just wanted. It’s essential. With flights booked, they leave their claustrophobic town behind, nervous yet hopeful.
The Collins siblings backpack through the jungles of Thailand, drink and dance in Bangkok, accumulating friends. There is laughter, budding love, delicious risk. Amity has never felt more awed. Or alive.
Everything changes when they purchase boat tickets to a tourist trap the locals call Bastard Island. ‘Discover paradise,’ the advertisement reads. ‘Come and feed the monkeys!’
But there on that remote beach, surrounded by people Amity doesn’t know or trust, the trees twitch as though impatient or hungry. From within those shadows, savagery is about to be unleashed.
The tide of teeth is near. Those sands will run red. And on Bastard Island, even survival is a sin.
A Place for Sinners is a surreal, ultra-violent odyssey into the absolute heart of darkness in us all. It will snatch you by the throat, blindside you with its twists, and leave you too broken to ever travel again.
Aiden Merchant is an independent author, working under various pseudonyms. He writes horror, suspense, drama, science fiction, fantasy, and whatever else fuels him on any given day. He currently has one collection of short stories available (Dead As Soon As Born).
His next story collection, KILL FOR THEM, will release in September. Before 2019 ends, there will also be some Kindle Singles along the way.
Under his real name, Aiden has been a music journalist since 2008, appearing in such international articles as Alternative Press and Outburn Magazine. Though his days of hitting the road for shows and festivals has since passed, music is still a passion of his that taught him how to write in a critical manner. Reviewing stories is still new to him, but he is very much interested in developing a style of his own.
Aiden is a father of one, married, and living in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee (USA). He is originally from further north, as is his wife. He loves to write, read, and explore the outdoors.