Dead Shift, by John Llewellyn Probert (2015)

DeadshiftReview by Jaq D Hawkins. Based on free review copy.

I was told this novella was a Comedy Horror, but the first chapter was very atmospheric and very definitely on the Horror side of that coin. It started out with one of the most effective first lines I’ve ever read, Darkness changes everything,  and built up the scene in a very literary style without crossing the line into pretentiousness.

The humour begins to show its face soon after in the sardonic wit of night-time medical staff. However, the tension remains and the story of Arthur Lipscomb and the book he has found continues to keep the pages turning in anticipation of finding out what has possessed it and him.

The balance continues to lean towards the Horror side of the scale with some comedic moments after Arthur performs a ritual that gives a nod to Dennis Wheatley with results that would make H. P. Lovecraft proud of his tentacly legacy.

Through a high tension encounter with the supernatural that includes familiar Horror elements like walking undead as well as some more unusual and disturbing threats and obstacles, a small cast of characters who started the day as ordinary hospital staff develop into likable characters that the reader really wants to see survive the night, though things progress such that it’s hard to imagine how that could ever happen. One of the fun things about Horror is that you’re not guaranteed a happy ending and anything might happen.

The book is high action and a quick pace, keeping attention riveted and speculation flowing of what horrors might appear next. The action continues all the way to the end and a satisfying conclusion that may leave the reader with a chill. This is an easy 4.5 star out of 5 rating.

This is some of the best Horror writing I’ve read and I will definitely be following this author to see what else he comes up with.