Enter Softly: Tyler Jones
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Having previously read both ‘Criterium’ and ‘The Dark Side of the Room,’ I was excited to not only read Jones’ next release ‘Almost Ruth’ but also the extended novellas that feature alongside each of them.
Jones definitely thought the release through on this, much to the benefit of the readers. First off – each of these three novellas included are new editions of each of the original books. Second off – in order to make sure those who’ve already purchased the first two books could read these as well as not have to rebuy a book they already own, he’s released them as a trilogy collection, which makes for ease of access. Kudos for that Jones. Additionally, I have seen him offering his previous releases as free ebooks lately as well, so he’s really doing his due diligence in helping out his fans.
What I liked: Made up of three novellas/novellettes, ‘Enter Softly’ showcases just how dark and depressing Jones’ writing can get. The atmosphere throughout reminds me of reading a dark graphic comic, where the panels are always shaded in and the sun hardly shows itself.
It should be noted that Jones has suggested you read the previous books before reading these, but I’d suggest they work just as well as standalone pieces. You’ll obviously see the connections and get more out of the subtle nods, but they still would work if you stumbled into this first.
First up is ‘Enter Softly’ the companion novella to ‘Criterium.’ The story follows a nurse, Lisa, who is dealing with her personal life spiralling out of control, as well as the stress of her day-to-day duties as a nurse being complicated by that. Lisa is an interesting character, one with significant faults that makes you both loath her but also root for her. Jones did a great job of infusing this story with a frantic element that worked really well.
Next up is ‘Along the Shadow.’ This is a muddy detective story set within the world of ‘The Dark Side of the Room.’ We follow Shaw and his partner Robby after a call comes in about a body. Shaw is a broken man, one dealing with his own personal issues, but he still wants to do what’s right for the community. I really enjoyed seeing how this ‘odd’ discovery had affected various characters and ultimately what leads to a really exciting finale.
Lastly, we get ‘Wake Up,’ a prequel novella to ‘Almost Ruth.’ The story centers around Bradford, the live-in butler for the Burke family. When something odd begins to happen and the children are locked away in their room, Bradford knows something is up. Jones does a great job of starting this off fairly straightforward and then quickly ramping up the tension and ultimately driving this story straight into blackness.
All three were really well done and each definitely works to add to the worlds they inhabit.
What I didn’t like: I honestly enjoyed each of the stories and nothing stood out that rattled my cage or struck a nerve. Jones did a solid job of making these individual pieces while also tying them into pre-existing worlds, which can often be tough, but he crushes it.
Why you should buy this: If you already own ‘Criterium’ and ‘The Dark Side of the Room,’ then this is a must-own, as you’ll want to dive in further. If you’re a new fan, I’d suggest that this would make for great ‘further reading’ but you’d also not be spoiling much by reading these first. Jones is a fantastic writer and a conjurer of dark atmosphere that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.
Enter Softly collects the brand new novellas that are included in the extended editions of Criterium, The Dark Side of the Room, and the new novel Almost Ruth.
In Along the Shadow, a story from the world of The Dark Side of the Room, Detective Gary Shaw is called to the scene of an unusual and grisly murder, which leads him to chase after a strange suspect. But Shaw is not sure if the suspect is also chasing him.
The butler for a wealthy family begins to fear the worst when mysterious guests show up at the manor in Wake Up, a prequel story to the novel Almost Ruth.
And in Enter Softly Emergency Room nurse, Lisa Morton, has a problem and she is about to lose her marriage, her child, and her job. As she works the night shift a very damaged patient comes into the hospital and sets in motion a series of events that could lead to Lisa’s salvation, or her end. A companion novella to the critically acclaimed Criterium, Tyler Jones returns to a world where addiction is a force with teeth and claws, and it will not let you go quietly.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
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