Weed By Night: Sarah L. Johnson
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this. The new batch of Short! Sharp! Shocks! releases from Demain Publishing were announced and I took three or four of them on for review. When I realized there was only a couple I wouldn’t be reading, I had Gavin send them over. Might as well read ’em all!
‘Weed by Night’ was the anomaly for me. Not listed on Goodreads, I had zero idea going into the book what the synopsis even was. What I ended up reading was a stunning slow-burn story that reminded me of ‘The VVitch’ mixed with Matthew Brockmeyers’ ‘Kind Nepenthe.’
What I liked: The story opens with the twins being dumped off at their grandma’s house in the middle of nowhere in the Prairie’s. Their mom had left this place many years ago when she found out she was pregnant. Now, with her losing their apartment and needing to find a job, she drops the two teens off and flees.
Johnson utilizes the twin aspect really well. I loved seeing the ‘telepathic’ twin interactions at the start and it worked once they realize they are now firmly left here with no outside communication to the real world and that the house is creepy.
The story never dips, but the unsettling uneasiness that grows with each passing page was fantastic and wholly engaging. I wanted to know what was going on, much like with ‘FOE’ by Iain Reid. When we get to the ending, Johnson really lets everything go full Pete Tong and the realization of what is happening was fantastically brutal.
What I didn’t like: When the kids arrive, neither of their grandma’s indicate what their names are. So we get introduced to them as grandma blue and grandma red. At first, this was a bit odd to try and keep them sorted in my mind, but that was minor.
Why you should buy this: Masterclass in dread. Pure and simply, Johnson tosses her fishing line out into the water and we bite immediately. But instead of yanking her fishing rod and cranking her line to drag us into shore right away, she teases us. Gives us some line, then pulls it tight and repeats. This was just a joy to read and such an unsettling story. Loved this.
Weed By Night
Fifteen-year-old twins Kaia and Jack meet their grandmothers for the first time when they’re dumped like luggage on the front porch of their windy farm.
Mom says it’s only for the summer, but her eyes say different, and then she’s gone. Kaia is curious about her mom’s moms and their strange garden, the old barn, and the smoke coming out of their pipe when they sit on the porch in the evenings. The G-units say it’s medicine, grown on this land by women, for generations.
They say Kaia’s mother ran away. They say Kaia should have been born here. They say nothing about her brother. They favour her over her him, and it’s not long before Kaia begins to dream.
It’s not long before she begins to worry about Jack.
(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)
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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