In And Down
Brett Alexander Savory
Brindle & Glass (September 30, 2007)
Reviewed By David Simms
Did you ever wonder what would emerge if one was to shove The Bad Seed, “lost boy lost girl,” and “A Christmas Carol” down the rabbit hole? Neither did I until Brett Alexander Savory’s novel unfolded before me like Alice had shackled herself to me, after first sharing a wicked mushroom.
Michael and Stephen exist as brothers in a womanless world created by an abusive father. Their mother had abandoned the family long ago, citing the father’s son, not hers, as the reason for her departure. Cryptic letters, apparently from her, begin surfacing throughout the house after Stephen, who appears to harbor hostility towards the younger brother, saves Michael from drowning.
Savory pulls the plug on reality with prose reminiscent of T.M. Wright, Straub, and Ramsey Campbell, slowly circling the drain as the reader is pulled “In and Down” into his sick little world. A “quiet horror” that seduces with subtlety, this story doesn’t aim to frighten with typical scares. Instead, it simply leans in close and whispers its tale, holding us captive with a tender, unflinching grip.
Once Michael ventures into the attic, the plot introduces the characters which give In and Down its life. Only when Stephen locks him in does he begin to funnel his way into the freedom from the mysteries of his life via a Dante-esque elevator. The enigmatic Hob serves as an unreliable tour guide through levels of his psyche that help him unravel the horrors that lie within. Others take the baton when Michael travels deeper, but it’s only when Marla, the lone female in the story, arrives, does he realize the depth of his delusions.
This novel may not appear to the reader as horror, initially, but if that connection Savory itches to make is made, he or she will enjoy a very dark ride, sitting uncomfortably close to a talented new writer.
To pre-order through Amazon.com: In And Down