Story in a Nutshell:
This is a novelette that you can take as a teaser for Lyons’s horror compilation yet to be released. It is in the vein of traditional ghost story wrapped up in a more modern character-focused storytelling style. The story is about Wendy, the deceased wife of main character Billy, who haunts her former husband and daughter after dying from childbirth years ago. Her appearance is ghastly and far removed from what she looked and acted like in life. The story follows the haunted family as Sara grows up with the strangest parental circumstances imaginable.
Synopsis on Goodreads:
Billy and Sara are living a life of fear. Every day and every night since Sara was small they have been haunted by a terrible apparition. She is cold and she is cruel, strange and frightening. Her name is Wendy, and no matter where they go and no matter what they do, Wendy Won’t Go.
Wendy is really freaking creepy.
This book is intended for fans of the horror genre and paranormal spookiness in general. This is not suited for young readers, but teen and adult readers will enjoy this quite a bit. The story does have a few parts that are not for the faint of heart. I won’t go into specifics, but if you are easily made squeamish, you’d better have some Pepto on hand!
If you really want to challenge yourself, I personally recommend that you read this book in the dark, at night, preferably during some kind of storm. If you can sleep after reading this, then you are a liar or a skimmer.
There are a few points in the book where the tense changes to present progressive. The tense changes happen when the action picks up, which might be stylistically unappealing to some. However, since it is predictable, I didn’t notice any spots where I wasn’t able to follow what was happening in the story. It’s clear in reading the story that Lyons was very much invested in the action and that you’re reading something that the storyteller personally finds compelling.
On a more stylistic note, Lyons also breaks “character” as the narrator a few times with commentary on what is happening in the story. Comments like “How awful!” are sprinkled in every once in a while. This isn’t necessarily distracting or really even a bad thing since it isn’t frequent. I don’t particularly like that kind of personable style, but it will undoubtedly appeal to many as it gives the story more of a campfire or personal feel, as though Lyons is sitting across from you and telling you the story herself. This just underscores what I said about Lyons herself being swept up in the story, which gives the reader all the more reason to feel some investment when reading.
Lyons wrenches the reader’s heart with several parts of the story. Lyons strives to make the characters feel real and I think she manages that quite well in such a short amount of time. There are surprises that I didn’t see coming, but they make sense with the way she has developed her characters. Her characters’ thoughts are very much in line with what you would expect from a person who was in the same situation, which I find to be admirable. Please note that this comment contains spoilers:
Sara grows up with her dead mother as a ghost relentlessly haunting her. There are moments where Wendy is not quite as violent and many attacks noted in the book that leave poor Sara with scratches, bruises, and an awful case of fright. She is aware the entire time that this monster is her mother and she wants to identify with her mother. She even tried to talk to her ghost mom about her period because she doesn’t feel like her father can relate. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but something that actually holds true with children who are brought up in odd circumstances, especially those who are abused as children. Even though her mother scares her and hurts her, she still wants to connect with her. I found this particularly important because Lyons doesn’t treat Wendy as some monster that everyone fears automatically. This shows a lot of the conflicting emotions in this situation, which feel authentic in a strange and horror-y way.
END SPOILER ALERT