Criterium: Tyler Jones
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I connected with Tyler some time back on Twitter over a shared love of Horror. I honestly can’t recall what it was, but something had been posted and we ended up replying a bit back and forth. Through all of that, Tyler ended up reaching out recently to see if I’d take a stab at reading his debut novella ‘Criterium.’ Tyler has had his short stories published in a number of fantastic anthologies, so I was excited to see what he’d created in a longer read.
For those going into this blind and are reading this review before reading the synopsis – you’re going to be emotionally devastated.
What I liked: This quick read is black. Think all absence of light. We arrive during the darkest moments of a struggling family. A father has OD’d and been found in the street. Now, his son is in the grips of his own addiction, trying to blot out the pain he feels over his father’s death. His mom is fighting to stay afloat, working to provide for her son and daughter.
From here Tyler takes us on a hellish road trip. We follow our main character as he tries to get another fix, but when that fails, he stumbles across a bike. What Jones does once this bike arrives was at times, close to pure brilliance. I had moments where I was reminded of ‘Remains’ by Andrew Cull and ‘What Dreams May Come’ from Richard Matheson. Jones doesn’t shy away from making the character hurt over his decisions but also having the reader experience some truly horrific emotions.
What I didn’t like: This would have been an easy five star read for me if we’d just been given a bit more about that bike. We do get a large, shadowy hint, but other than the symbol of it being a vessel and even harkening to the idea of the ghosts of Christmas past from Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’ we are left with an ambiguous, but important, bike.
Why you should buy it: Pure devastation is all that will await you in this quick novella. If you enjoy confronting familial pain and the throes of addiction, look no further. I wasn’t expecting this novella to unravel the way it did, but my goodness, what a pleasant (if black) surprise.
I think this one is going to be the sleeper hit for 2020, the one that keeps building and building for years to come and will help grow the legend that was Tyler Jones debut release.
Fighting the same addiction that killed his father, a young man stumbles across a strange bike that take him on a terrifying ride into darkness.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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