Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eeek! Nightmares Tonight

Normally, I eschew the horror genre, after reading the allegedly non-scary Stephen King book Gerald's Game the summer before college and having the shit so thoroughly scared out of me that I missed out on an entire summer's worth of sleep. But I saw Sophie by Guy Burt, and decided to give it a try.

Throughout the book, it promised to disappoint. The book tells the tale of Sophie, who is being held prisoner by Mattie (a guy). Mattie has her tied to a chair in an abandoned house, and says he wants answers to what happened in their childhood. So does the reader. There are all kinds of hints of bizarre doings: someone named either Ol' Grady or Ol' Greedy, who I could never determine whether he was an actual person or a manifestation like the Boogeyman, but who Sophie apparently killed. Their mother spends all of her time confined to one room of the house. Their father is always gone. The extraordinarily intelligent Sophie takes care of Mattie. They spend their days together and share their own world, made for two and two alone.

The tale vacillates between the present day (told through the eyes of Sophie) and the past (told from Mattie's point of view). Like most horror books, it's hard to tell too much about it without spoiling the ending. I will just say that the last fifty or so pages of the book make it worth it. If you decide to try this one, try not to get bored before then. And try not to get annoyed with all of the clumsy foreshadowing ("You knew, even then, didn't you? Tell me, what was the real purpose of the barn? How long had you been planning it all?"). Maybe other, more seasoned horror readers will find the ending predictable. I sure didn't. And it is genuinely scary too. It taps into a fear that I believe most people have, and what's revealed at the end makes the rest of the book all the more scary, as it challenges where your sympathies have lain all along.

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