Only The Stains Remain: Ross Jeffery
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Ross Jeffery is on a writing roll right now.
Between his great ‘Juniper’ and ‘Tome’ novels, his ‘Tethered’ novella/flash fiction piece and his mini-collection ‘Milk Kisses & Other Stories,’ Ross has been hitting them out of the park.
Now, he comes running at the reader once again with his newest novella ‘Only the Stains Remain.’
Having chatted with Ross a bit about this one, I knew going in that this was a difficult, emotional story for him to put on the page. I was excited to see just where we’d go once I dove in.
What I liked: The story is brutal. Horrific. And ultimately heartbreaking.
We follow a young man who has been abused for years at the hands of his uncles, following the death of his mom. His dad is now a raging alcoholic, giving up on life.
For some time, Jude, our main character, is protected by his brother Kyle. But when Kyle can no longer protect Jude, things get even worse.
Ross has created an engaging read here, one that pulls you along, wanting you to know more and more. Similar in nature to ‘Dear Laura’ by Gemma Amor, you know something is coming and you want to find out what.
The cathartic aspect of this is really well done and it was great to see a story that doesn’t hold back or throw any punches. There was no second-guessing by Jude. He needed to do certain things and he did them, which was refreshing.
What I didn’t like: There were a few quirks in this story. I wasn’t overly convinced of the father’s storyline. At first, he is relayed as having given up on life and then appears to be a willing participant later on. I wasn’t sure which he was – a blackout drunk or a drinker who abused. Also, some chapters felt a bit unnecessary. Jude describes a lot of things throughout, but a few times we loop back around to that same description later on. I tried to find purpose in it, maybe a breakdown or mental escape, but ultimately didn’t see that. Could just be something that clicked in this reader’s brain.
Why you should buy this: This read a lot like Ross’ fantastic ‘Tethered.’ Only a brutal horrific version of it. ‘Only the Stains Remain’ is a sad story of a boy left all alone when the people who should be there to watch out for him and help him when his mom dies, take advantage instead. A hard read, but ultimately one that showcases the range horror can offer.
Only The Stains Remain
Only The Stains Remain is the haunting story of Jude and Kyle, two brothers whose lives are destroyed when, following the death of their mother, their three abusive uncles Dwight, Lucius, and Lenny move in to the family home. But whilst Jude suffers to a degree, Kyle is the one who takes the brunt of their attention, submitting himself to preserve his younger brother’s innocence.
As a grown man, Jude’s mind turns to vengeance for what they have endured. He has waited a long time, but now he is strong enough, and cold-hearted enough, to do the deed. Enacting one harrowing revenge after another, Jude’s dark quest to punish the wrongs of the past will show that after all is said and done, only the stains of the past will remain.
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
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here