{Book Review} Backwater: Tom Deady

Backwater: Tom Deady

Reviewed By Steve Stred

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Omnium Gatherum Media (5 Sept. 2018)

I just want to start off with a sincere apology to Mr Deady. I was sent this for review through Kendall Reviews at some point at the end of 2018. I’m just now getting to it. How this happened is beyond me, but I finally rectified it and here we go!

Tom Deady has been a name floating around and recommended to me by a number of folks.

His novel ‘Haven’ won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel and has been on my radar for some time. Whenever you hear that sort of accomplishment, you get excited when you get to read some of their work.

Backwater features two interconnected novellas, although that connection is fairly loose. A single character is mentioned in the first novella who is the main character in the second novella. As well, both stories occur in the small town of Edgewater. (Fun side note – I grew up about 3 hours from Edgewater, BC. We never went there as it was a total dive, although it did have a great reputation for partying. Not to be confused with Edgewood, BC, which was about thirty minutes from my childhood home. Edgewood came by its nickname Goodweed honourably.)

The first story – “Class Reunion” is the stand out of the two. We follow Tim who has decided to attend his 40th High School Grad Reunion. This is the first of the reunions he’s attended and is decidedly nervous regarding what to expect.

The nostalgia trip that Deady gives us is top-notch. It really gave me a new, wonderful take on reminiscing, as this wasn’t the 10 or 20-year reunion. These folks have lived life and being in their 50’s now, really made it enjoyable to see how they’ve carried on past the high school glory days.

Deady couples the nostalgia with a great subplot for our main character Tim, which really helps explain the bits that he can’t remember. Along the way, Deady introduces some old acquaintances which are where things really ramp up. The ending did feel a bit rushed for me, but it answered the questions and tied up all of the plot ends, which worked well. If this had been drawn out a bit more, this would have been a 5-star story for me. As such, I’m giving it a solid 4 stars.

This is where I kind of wished Deady had stopped. The second novella included was just a slog for me. It went down a familiar plot path for me and overall I just didn’t enjoy it.

“One Night at the Grand,” follows the aforementioned linked character Stan from the first story, as he and a group of urban explorers decide to explore The Grand Hotel before it is demolished. While on the surface this sounds like an excellent premise, the story ultimately felt far too rushed for me and things just kind of get skimmed over and happen. Throw in Stan’s frustrating anger over a potential crush on a fellow explorer and then the ‘saw it coming from a mile away’ ending, One Night at the Grand just really failed in its execution for me. As I said, the potential was there, the delivery was not.

For me, this novella on its own was a 2/5.

Overall I’m rating this fast read a 3.5/5. Class Reunion was just so well done that it really holds up the collection on its own. I’m definitely going to explore ‘Haven’ now from Deady, as it’s synopsis looks fantastic and seeing how well done the first novella in this book was, I’d love to see his writing chops played out with an extra 100-200 pages.


Tim Douglas returns to his home town of Edgewater to bury his mother wanting nothing more than to get back to his retirement in Arizona. A strange sequence of events compels him to attend his 40th high school reunion where the past encroaches on the present, and Tim realizes that the ghosts of his youth must also be laid to rest.

There’s nothing like exploring an abandoned building to bring history back to life. So when Stan Powalski and his urban explorer friends learn that Edgewater’s Grand Hotel is slated for demolition, they can’t wait to get inside. None more than Stan, who has been raised on his grandmother’s stories of the majestic building, the site of his parents’ wedding. What Stan doesn’t know is the Grand holds its own memories, and history has a long reach.

Welcome to Edgewater, Massachusetts. You’ve driven through towns like it; quiet tree-lined streets, a gazebo on the town common where band concerts are held in the summer, maybe an ice-cream truck surrounded by children. But haven’t you wondered what secrets lie hidden behind the elegant brickwork or buried in the postcard-pretty hills and forests? In Edgewater, nothing is as it seems.

You can buy Backwater from Amazon UKAmazon US

Steve Stred

Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak 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, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.

On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

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 Stranger

Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?

Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.

Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?

But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.

While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.

The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.

The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.

Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.



Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.

But what if it’s not…

What if there is something out there?

The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”

With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.

Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.

Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…



The Stranger. 

You can buy The Stranger from Amazon UK Amazon US

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