The Special – James Newman & Mark Steensland
Reviewed By Steve Stred
So, a bit of confession here – I completely confused James Newman with someone else and didn’t realize this was the same author as Odd Man Out. Insane, right?
My first foray down Newman’s literary output was Odd Man Out (for which you can read my review here) and it made me confront some realities that occur in life. That story is brutal, heart wrenching and it forced me to think back to my teen years, when we’d made jokes that were awful.
The Special (Newman teaming up with Steensland) is almost a companion piece to Odd Man Out. Where that was a tale of teens put together and confronting a reality, The Special is a tale that showcases the ‘stuck in a routine’ working schlub. The guy who has married, has a house, has a 9-5 and isn’t too happy with where he’s at. That’s Jerry Harford. You see, Jerry’s at that point in life that we all want to avoid – working at a job he hates, now having gained some weight and his only joy in life is a few beers after work with his co-worker Mike.
Then the kicker – it looks like his wonderful wife Lisa is cheating on him.
From that meager opening, Steensland and Newman unleash a horrendous decent into madness and obsession, as Jerry goes down the rabbit hole. This is a hard tale to review, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but seeing how this is readily available in the synopsis, I can say that Mike convinces Jerry to go to a nondescript house where in that house, there is a room. And in that room, there is a box. And inside that box is the greatest pleasure you’ve ever experienced.
The narrative closer follows the downward spiral of many drug addicts and alcoholics, those who’ve convinced themselves that they can handle ‘just one more hit or sip.’
This book rockets along with breakneck speed and if I wasn’t reading four other books, I would’ve easily finished this in one sitting (much like Odd Man Out). Now I’m a bit glad I read it over two sittings, just so I could have a bit more time with the box.
I might need to reread this. Just one more time… just to experience it… one more time.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
A truly ‘Special’ offering, one that’ll make you want to know, what’s in the box.
When you need something extra-special, think inside the box.
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale. A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.