Unsettled – Jay Sigler
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I recently read Sigler’s debut Novel ‘Train Thoughts’ and was pleasantly surprised. (KR: You can read Steve’s review here)
As I mentioned then, Justin M. Woodward had been raving about the book and kept telling me I needed to get on it and read it and when I finally did, I was not disappointed.
Sigler returns now with his second release, a Novella titled ‘Unsettled’ and from both the story within and the afterword, the name works on two different levels. It relates directly to the story within as well as Sigler’s desire to write another piece similar in theme to ‘Train Thoughts.’
The story follows two families interwoven at first from friendship and then tragedy.
High school friends, who drift apart then reunite after and forge a close friendship.
But as we all know, sometimes things are not as they appear. Behind closed doors, one family is dealing with a wife who’s now a full-blown alcoholic.
Sigler builds a great narrative between the outside view and the inside view as well as the interpersonal family dynamics. The struggle of the dad to not let the son see just how far or how much mom is struggling with the disease.
Then the tragedy, or as the story refers to it as the ‘incident.’
I don’t want to spoil anything here, as it’s one of the more emotional things I’ve read in some time, but Sigler does a great job of making it heart wrenching and awful, while minimizing the visuals. Kudos.
I don’t have any triggers but this one hit close to home with a real life experience and I was glad to see that I made it out, a-ok.
This all culminates in a chaotic finale that I think links the story to the opening nicely but also lets it breath. I did see the “twist” coming, but that didn’t deaden the impact and I believe it was the correct plot line for the story to play out with.
Sigler directly injects some ‘Train Thought’ moments/visuals which allows you to connect the two together but also allow them to be stand-alone pieces.
One thing I do want to add – and this is just an observation, but in the last month we’ve had a novella from the trilogy of Roles, Woodward and now Sigler released and all three have been really well done psychological thrillers. This should be a trilogy of writer’s to keep on your radar and I think the friendship between those three is helping to elevate their story telling.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4*
A gripping, uncomfortable ‘real-life’ horror story.
Friends since high school, Brendan and Matt have been there for each other through all of life’s ups and downs. But when a devastating accident takes everything from Brendan plunging him into a state of paranoid obsession, their friendship is put to the ultimate test. Fighting to keep his own family from falling apart, Matt struggles to help his friend, and his long suppressed anger begins raging to the surface.
As raw emotions take over, the lines of reality begin to blur. And when actions are taken solely on perceived reality, can anything truly be settled?
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.