Book Review – TRYING TO BE SO QUIET & OTHER HAUNTINGS by James Everington

Review by Jolly Goat

PUBLISHED BY: BOO BOOKS (2016), SINISTER HORROR COMPANY (2019)

This review contains information about elements of the stories but is a non-spoiler review.  

Back Cover Blurb:

 “Trying To Be So Quiet & Other Stories presents three stories about love, loss and the horror that comes when grief removes our reason for living from the world.

In ‘The Second Wish’, a son coping with the sudden death of his parents returns to his childhood home only to find that, despite everything being familiar, things inside seem increasingly unreal.

In ‘Damage’ a grieving lover loses all sensation of pain as she tries to make sense of her enduring grief.

The title story is a novella telling of a husband’s struggle with the reality of his wife’s death as he remembers their life together. Although haunted, he struggles to find the ghosts that assail him as meaningful as the bleak fact that he is now alone. But that doesn’t stop him seeing them…”

There’s an idea about books that goes something like this – traditionally published works are good, and self-published/indie press works are bad. There’s this assumption that if a writer can’t “land” a mainstream publisher, then their work must be of poor quality. There’s most definitely an assumption that mainstream books go through a certain level of quality control that makes them superior to everything else. This is all absolute nonsense.

Yes, there are poor quality indie books, but I’ve also read grammatically bad books put out by mainstream presses, including one non-fiction offering that is a parenting advice book perpetuating the idea that discipline should always involve violence.

James Everington’s short story collection TRYING TO BE SO QUIET & OTHER HAUNTINGS comes under the small press category, and it’s a perfect example that all of the perceptions mentioned above are nonsense. I have no idea how many copies this collection has sold but whatever the number, it’s not enough.

The book contains three short stories (Trying To Be So Quiet, The Second Wish, and Damage). Each of them deals with grief, and each of them contain supernatural elements (or do they?), which are subtle, and also secondary to the character explorations.

If you’re a plot-driven reader then this may not be the story collection for you, but if you enjoy quiet, emotional horror with deep characters then this will be right up your mountain, where you will find us – your humble goats – not eating this book because we want to treasure it.

The first story deals with a husband struggling with losing his wife, the second is about a man who has lost his parents, and the third is about a woman who abruptly loses the love of her life and soon after her own will to live. What’s truly exceptional about this book as a whole is that though grief is the main theme running through each of its tales, the depictions of grief are entirely different, yet relatable, in all. You could be forgiven for assuming that it would all get a bit same-y, but it doesn’t.

Here at Happy Goat Horror, we have collectively read countless books, many of them dealing with the subject of death (it is one of the hinges by which horror hangs, after all). Death is common and mostly easily described. Grief, however, is another monster for a writer to tackle. Beyond the clichés of ‘they couldn’t eat, they couldn’t sleep’, it’s not often we come across stories that depict grief so emphatically that we need to watch episodes of Red Dwarf immediately after reading, just to bring some sunshine back into the world. Honestly, I haven’t come across descriptions of grief this relatable, realistic, or as well-depicted since Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. These stories might very well put you on a temporary downer, particularly if you have ever lost someone, but isn’t feeling something what we want when we’re reading?

Everington manages to make you feel for characters who no longer can or even want to feel anything, which in my bleety opinion is a triumph. Each haunting story is quiet but engaging, sad but compelling, and beautifully written.

All of the goats here are fans of this book, even Angry Goat – I swear, Angry Goat almost smiled. I will most certainly be reading more of James Everington’s work. I’d recommend this most of all to fans of quiet horror, emotional horror, and those who enjoy character-orientated story-telling.

If you’d like to get yourself a copy, you can find it here:

SINISTER HORROR COMPANY

If you’d like to check out James Everington and his other works, you can find him here:

JAMES EVERINGTON’S WEBSITE

If you enjoyed this book and would like to check out more releases from Sinister Horror Company, you can find their website and Etsy store here:

SINISTER HORROR COMPANY

SINISTER HORROR COMPANY – ETSY

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