Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review of "The Slender Man" by Simon John Cox

Story Overview:

Adam Bradford is eating his breakfast in peace when he receives some unusual texts from his estranged sister. Within minutes the police are on the phone telling him his sister is missing. While trying to help the police in locating; Adam discovers his sister has been researching a creature that is unknown to science; The Slender Man. Is it this creature that is responsible for her disappearance or something normal? And will whatever has his sister come back for more?

Cover Page: 18/20

The cover of this book is rather chilling to the bone. As with most of the great monster horror genre, the best images are ones that don’t directly show the creature. This leaves the readers mind completely free to imagine it when they are reading the book and not spoiling any plots that maybe important later on. It is a shame that on the Kindle that the cover is not so well shown. But that is the limitation of the device and by this point the reader already has bought the book and had chance to appreciate the artwork.

Character (and their development): 10/20

The story centres upon one character with little interaction between him and other individuals. I was unable to relate to the main character. I couldn’t see why he left out details to the police, such as the three mysterious text messages he had in the morning or information at his sister’s house. Nor could I understand why he would allow a complete stranger straight into his sister’s house and then allow him almost free reign. There also seemed to be a complete lack of mourning for his sister or any kind of worry. I realised that it was established early on that they didn’t exactly get on, but I still would have thought some more emotional response to her disappearance and revelation of her fate would have had some effect on him.

I also didn’t particularly feel that the police officer was realistic. He seemed almost non-interested in the case and was going through the motions with the main character.

However what I thought was very good was the antagonist. The Slender Man was very well conceived and depicted excellently. I didn’t exactly understand his motives, but I think that adds to the horror of the story, that you don’t understand what is going on in its mind.

Storyline: 7/20

The storyline in its basic concept is classic: A loved one goes unexpectedly missing and someone goes looking for them. It is a great story that can win time and time again. However “The Slender Man” in my opinion is a story in which certain elements were missing or events didn’t seem to add up. For instance at the beginning of the book Adam doesn’t tell the police officer that he had received the three texts that morning from his sister, with little plausible explanation as to why. There is also the question as to the police investigation. I don’t understand why his sister’s house wasn’t searched for clues and how Adam was left in it without a police liaison officer with him or nearby.

For me at times I was asking a lot of questions on why wasn’t this done, why wasn’t that looked into and where is everyone? And it is that which tainted the plot for me.

Style: 8/20

The style has a mixed bag. On the one hand the final sequence is beautiful in the fact that it raises the tensions and the hairs on the back of the neck. But the rest of the novella was something that I found hard to read. Written from the first person the book concentrates on what seems at times as “I did...”or “I was...”. In one paragraph there were 5 or 6 sentences which carried variances of “I did...”. This left the storyline more like a list of activities than a description of events. To quote a famous author: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass” (Anton Checkov; 1860 –1904).

To be fair to the author, the first person perspective on anything longer than a short story is incredibly hard to get right. And I know that from my own writing and tough discussions from my editors. I think that if this had been done in third person then the whole novella would have been improved.

Spelling and Grammar: 15/20

While there were no spelling mistakes, the problems that plagued the style section above also made the grammar seem a little off.

Conclusion: 58/100

“The Slender Man” does have its positives. It has a great concept and a fresh new antagonist which is well thought out and portrayed brilliantly. Plus to the author’s credit he kept it sufficiently hidden until the final sequences that you will feel a little ice in your blood at the thought. I can think of several authors who would have let temptation get the better of them and reveal the monster too soon. But unfortunately I was left asking more questions than I had answers for and the repetitive use of “I...” left me struggling to read fluently through the novella. If you like a good monster and don’t mind this style of writing, then you may wish to give this a try. Otherwise you probably won’t.

With that said, I would caution staying away from this author. Personally I think that there is some potential in the stories he creates and perhaps that the first person perspective just wasn’t right for this story. I would be interested in testing one of his other releases, if they were in third person.

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