I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by Tim Lebbon
Published by Venture Press on July 24, 2016
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Horror, Thriller, Thrillers
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He spoke into the box … but then, the box spoke back.
Daniel Powell is ten years old when his sickly mother passes away. Her young death leaves Daniel with only his father too soon. Distraught, his father starts to fall apart. Daniel also is unable to let her go.
After the funeral, Daniel notices his father secretly talking to a large coffin-like box that has appeared underneath his bed. His father orders him not to enter his room.
Intrigued and confused by what it is doing there, Daniel cannot help but wonder what lies inside.
Then one day his father goes out. Daniel is left alone in the house with the mysterious box. He taps the box and the box taps back. When he scrapes his nails along it, he hears the same sound.
He convinces himself that it must be an echo. But when Daniel whispers to the box of his troubles, the box answers back...
It is a voice that he does not recognise, yet this voice knows so much.
Tim Lebbon’s The Reach of Children is a chilling horror tale, which will leave you spooked and moved in one sitting.
THE REACH OF CHILDREN, by Tim Lebbon, is a deeply emotional tale–with some horrific elements–that deals with the different form “grief” takes when a loved one dies, untimely. The novella begins with a relevant quote from Brian Aldiss– “When Childhood dies, its corpses are called adults.”
Lebbon begins with ten-year-old Daniel waking up to his Father telling him that his Mum had just passed away. Although we are given enough to believe that she had been slowly dying in her room for some time prior, the news presented in this manner starts our story out with an instant outpouring of sorrow for the family, and rivets the reader’s attention firmly to the page. Immediately, we are thrust, along with Daniel, into a type of wake in the family’s home, while they wait for his “Mum” to be taken away. In Daniel’s own mind, there is a stark division between the way adults process death, and how they aren’t quite sure how to be around him.
. . . Something about grief appeared to make Daniel invisible . . . he sensed a difference between himself and the grown-ups that seemed difficult to cross . . . the spaces between words said much more than the words themselves.”
As Daniel and his Father–with help from his Father’s good friend, Gary–go about adjusting in their own ways to this huge void now in their lives, Daniel begins to sense something . . . off . . . about his Father’s secretive mumblings behind his closed bedroom door . . .
At its heart, I felt this was a brilliant tale about a great loss, and how a boy struggles to go on with all the changes wrought around him. Daniel is forced to acknowledge some difficult truths regarding his Mother’s early passing. . . . “She had talked to him about dying. He had never even asked her if she was scared. Now he wished he had, and in some older part of his mind, he recognized that there are some regrets which echo forever.”
At the same time, he watches his Father dealing with her death in other ways, magnifying the differences in age by the way they project their individual sorrow. his Father lost his wife, his life-partner. Daniel has lost his Mother, the one who would teach him about nature, life, love, and everything in between. With her death, he realizes all that he has lost along with her.
” . . . Her head was full of things–memories, ideas, and words she hadn’t said yet– . . . I wish she’d had time to tell me those things, because now they’re all gone.”
In the midst of this haunting, unforgettable story, Daniel sees another–different–side of his Father. The suspicions and dark doubts he harbors about his Father’s increasingly strange behaviors begin to mount up, but who can he turn to when everything in his world has changed so drastically?
Lebbon brings us an evocative novella that delves into the very depth of loss, and the events that force a boy to grow up before he should ever have to.