Faces In A Window: Oliver C. Seneca
Reviewed By Tarn Richardson
‘Faces in a window’ by Oliver C. Seneca is a novel which, at it’s heart, is a warm, honest and oddly familiar story of love and loyalty, set within a demonic school of creepy nuns, janitors and curses.
Ian and Michelle are new teachers at St Stephen’s Catholic Middle School, having both been employed to replace two teachers who left after the previous summer term and mysteriously died a short time later. Aside from the fact that the average age of the rest of teaching staff appears to be close to one hundred, and that both Ian’s and Michelle’s dreams are haunted by ghastly nightmares of burning children and ominous nuns in windows, the school appears to be a happy environment within which to teach and live.
However, it’s not long before the visions begin to increase, the ghostly faces in the window become commonplace and the revelations about the school’s ghastly history come to light, encouraging Ian and Michelle into action to try and remove the curse and save themselves from being caught forever within its terrible spell.
Firstly, Seneca should be applauded for writing with such honesty and, at times, really nice turn of phrases. He’s a confident and undemanding writer, creating a world within ‘Faces’ that is easy to imagine, follow and appreciate. All the classic horror-tropes are here, from creepy janitors to ghostly nuns, and because of it there’s a nourishing quality to both his writing and to the story, a sense of deja vu one is willing to accept thanks to the enthusiastic pitch of the author’s tone. The story proceeds at a gentle trajectory towards the final showdown, whilst stopping off at all the expected places along the way. It’s the sort of undemanding story that a day at the beach or a late night on the sofa were made for.
And therein lies some of the problems with ‘Faces’. It’s almost too nice a novel. I would have liked to have seen a grittier, crueller edge to the story, one fitting of the curse condemning the school. With Seneca you almost have a sense of a writer not wishing to make the story too uncomfortable or disturbing which might offend or insult – which is what ‘Faces’ at times needs. This is wholesome good horror fun, when, if it had been twisted in places to include more gratuitous and unsettling events, it could have turned into something a little more arresting and compelling.
For all that, I did enjoy the lilting run-along storyline and the end has a neat twist which even James Herbert would be proud of. This is horror for a Sunday afternoon, pre-watershed chills, which keeps its claws retracted and for whom I suspect there’s a big market. Which I also hope Seneca reaches.
Faces In A Window
Every school has a secret.
After two beloved teachers pass away at St. Stephen’s Middle School, it’s up to Ian Evans & Michelle Thompson to fill their shoes.
But their eager anticipation soon turns to terror.
They are plagued with unexplainable nightmares and horrific visions: Students who aren’t really there; the school catching fire; scenes of their own deaths playing out before them.
Uncovering what it all means could cost them their jobs, or their lives. With each other’s determination to find the truth of the school’s past, and with the help of an old janitor, Ian and Michelle must risk it all to save more than just their souls.
Tarn Richardson was brought up a fan of fantasy and horror, in a remote house, rumoured to be haunted, near Taunton, Somerset. He is the author of THE DARKEST HAND series, published by Duckworth Overlook in 2015-2017 and republished by RedDoor in 2019. Comprising of THE DAMNED, THE FALLEN, THE RISEN, and free eBook prequel THE HUNTED, the books tell the epic story of Inquisitor Poldek Tacit, battling the forces of evil to the backdrop of World War One. He has also written the novels, RIPPED, and THE VILLAGE IN THE WOODS, to be published in 2020 and 2021. He lives near Salisbury with this wife, the portraiture artist Caroline Richardson, and their two sons.
Official Website www.tarnrichardson.co.uk