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Rezension zu "One by One (Fiction Without Frontiers) (English Edition)" von D.W. Gillespie

One by one, they are gone...
misspidervor 4 Monaten

After reading the author's previous book 'Toy Chief' I had him on my radar and was thrilled to see a new title was out, and found that I like 'One by One' even better.

The story is told from the POV of young girl Alice, who moves with her family into a decrepit house that "they bought at a steal", as her father doesn't tire to tell them. However, the other family members can't share his enthusiasm over this slightly creepy, labyrinthine building. Soon, Alice notices odd things to happen after she discovers a child's drawing on the floor wall: a family of stick figures, complete with pet Alice's father grows an aggressive streak Alice never would have thought this usually easy-going man to be capable of. Even her mother is more irritated than usual. Then, a diary appears in Alice's room which belonged to a girl that previously lived in the house, telling her tragic story. Also, Alice thinks she glimpsed a strange person lurking about the house.

But things really start to get scary when the drawn pet on the wall is crossed out with a thick black X and the family's cat is found dead soon after. While her parents believe Alice or her sulking brother might be behind that cruel joke and the cat simply drowned by accident, Alice is sure something unnatural, maybe even supernatural, is haunting their new home. From there on, events come thick and fast. Only Alice recognizes what is behind all this, and it is up to her to face whatever is threatening to destroy her family.

Compared to 'Toy Thief', I found that the plot of 'One by One' appears more of a piece, leading you down a spiralling path into the depth of insanity. For a long time you are not sure what causes the mysterious events. Every now and then, the path changes directions, washing overboard previously nurtured suspicions, only to come up with a new possibility after the next turn. Alice was a believable and likeable character. It was impressive to see how she outgrew her old shy, pensive self and became the strong and determined fighter it took to stand up for her family.

The author put a lot of thought into the details, which fit together like puzzle pieces, but missing the original pattern, so that only at the end, when everything is put together neatly, you are able to recognize the scary overall picture.

(Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)


Rezension zu "The Toy Thief (Fiction Without Frontiers) (English Edition)" von D.W. Gillespie

Non-stop nightmare
misspidervor 9 Monaten

This book caught my attention solely with its cover, the title and the creepy doll face made me curious. Toy Thief sounds like fantasy and horror rolled into one and my first thought was something on the lines of fairy-tale gone wrong, though I have no idea where that comes from. The first part of the book surely delivered on that premise, and I loved the creepiness of the Toy Thief and the mysteriously vanishing toys, which had a dreamlike (or rather nightmarish) quality. That, however, was topped in the second half, which became much darker and violent.

While I loved the plot - I can easily picture it made into a movie (by Guillermo del Toro as suggested by the author) and the Thief's cave alone would be so worth watching it! -, I had my problems with the main character Jack, who tells the story as she writes it down years later. I really wanted to sympathize with Jack, but it just wouldn't 'click'. I can only assume there might be a misinterpretation on my side, I constantly wanted to shake her out of her self-pity that seemed to permeate the pages. While I could follow her thoughts and actions as a child (loved when she set up the trap for the Thief!), I was irritated, if not annoyed by her adult version, though I can't put my finger on it, it's just a general feeling. I guess I would have preferred the story to focus on the Toy Thief and end sooner, instead of showing how Jack and her brother were changed by the events and what happened to them afterwards. However, I understand that the author's intention was a more complex one, showing what the Toy Thief did to them and how it affected their lives for good.

So while the book took a different path than expected, the writing was intense, almost mesmerizing, so that I found myself glued to the pages most of the time, forgetting everything around me. I will definitely keep the author on my radar from now on.

(Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)


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