Life has been hectic towards the end of summer. What with finishing up a summer job, revving up for the start of the fall school semester, and trying to fit personal projects and goals in between, sitting down with a short story for review seemed like the perfect relaxation…so I thought. It's been amazingly difficult to find the time to do this author review. Thankfully, I was able to sit with Welcome Home and read it through with one of my kids sitting on one side, a cat curled up on the other. Having read the teaser as a possible paranormal thriller, I felt I could use the support!
When John Lester comes home, he expects to find a lot of his dead parents' old stuff, but he doesn't expect to hear the blood-curdling screams and find the horrifying truth of his father's obsessions. More truths appear as he struggles to come to terms with inconsistencies between his faded childhood memories and the stark words in his father's journal.
Gems for Writers:
Setting as Plot Device. Hage uses his setting to the fullest extent, encouraging the creepy, psychological thriller aspects with the old house full of dust and empty rooms. An excellent example of his use of setting mirroring the storyline is the father's study. It was always off limits to young John, and now that he's able to browse through the desk and find the journal, off limit sections of his knowledge come to the fore-front to haunt him.
Smoke & Mirrors. Misdirection is done well in this story. I enjoy a good paranormal story, and was interested when I read about disembodied footsteps and bodiless screams ripping through the old house. Being so focused on such paranormal happenings, I was pleasantly surprised by the true outcome.
Spoil Me Not. The use of plot twist at the end really makes the reader want to go back and reread the story a second time to catch items they might have missed the first time through. I don't want to give spoilers, so expect the unexpected.
I recommend this story to anyone that enjoys a good psychological twist. Not only is this a well-written story structurally, but it's also gripping and holds attention through to the end. Add to that its ability to surprise instead of following the expected course of action and Welcome Home proves to be a wonderful quick read for someone with little time. I wish more shorts were this well written and as compelling!
***Welcome Home (2010) by William Hage, is published and copyright by William Hage. It is available in stores, online (see above), and (hopefully) at your local public library.