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.CRIBBINS by R.H. Dixon
Published by Corvus Corone Press on June 1, 2018
Genres: Crime, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Ghost, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense
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He belonged in Hell, but lived next door!
A modern day ghost story of creeping dread...
"While struggling to cope with the emotional and physical impact of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, single mother Sophie Harrington is tormented by a man from her past: her old neighbour Ronnie Cribbins.
Cribbins has been dead for the past fifteen years and Sophie is faced with the possibility that his malevolent spirit could be the cause of her autoimmunity, because she can feel him attacking her senses from within.
Enlisting the help of her new neighbour Piotr Kamiński, a troubled younger man with a dark past of his own, Sophie must look to her childhood in order to expose a secret she hadn’t realised she’d kept hidden. Because if she doesn’t recognise the truth, she, along with her eleven-year-old daughter, will be sucked into Cribbins’ cold, black, stinking world forever.
And in Cribbins’ world there’s no medication – just pain and sickness."
CRIBBINS: A Modern Ghost Story, is the first novel I have read by author R.H. Dixon. I will say upfront that I found this to be a pleasantly “unique” twist on the haunting theme, and I really enjoyed the writing style. We first meet our main character, Sophie Harrington, as she is at a doctor’s office learning of a medical condition she has.
“. . . it was too epic. And at the same time, it simply was what it was . . . “
Then we go back a few months to what she felt was the onset of her symptoms. From this point, we learn that Sophie is divorced with a young daughter, Caitlyn, and a controlling ex, Gareth. She presents a strong, formidable woman who is used to the practicality of situations.
Unfortunately, this is not a situation where anything could be considered “practical”.
” . . . it’s like we’re bound together or something . . . “
Sophie believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her one-time neighbor, Ronnie Cribbins. All she recalls about the man who died years before is that he was very tall, had long arms, rancid breath, and gave everyone that came in contact with him a very disquieting, “hunted” feeling. And now, Cribbins was haunting her mind and body.
“. . . Cold, slithery hands smothering the cortex of her brain to suffocate old memories so she might not know the truth . . . “
Dixon does a great job getting the reader into Sophie’s mind! The characterization here is so complete that I not only felt I knew her, but also believed–immediately–that the feelings and ideas invading her mind were real.
“. . . the reason for her despondency was a massive emptiness within her . . . She wasn’t whole. Was anybody? . . . “
In the book, I found that I enjoyed the way the author would go from the present day, to certain, memorable, points in the past as Sophie strove to understand what she “doesn’t remember” about her old neighbor. At the forefront is always the question of “why her?”, and “why now?”. This novel really gets to the reader, psychologically, forcing you to think along unfamiliar lines.
“. . . maybe you will never heal even if you do learn the truth, but at least then you will know what your demon is . . . “
There is no disputing that this is a horror tale, yet there were some parts–particularly in past scenes, viewed as a child–that I felt an almost surreal atmosphere. We could go from a blatant truth from a youth’s standpoint, to something more obscure, uncertain, and mentally scarring.
“. . . she found that adults often insisted on being pleasant to one another, even when a situation didn’t warrant such niceness.”
Throughout it all, this remains an emotionally poignant story on all levels. Sophie’s “haunting’, her diagnosis, the effect it has on her family and work, and finally her own consciousness as she searches through the past to make sense of the things she’s witnessing in the present.
“Their realities had crossed paths with a dimension they didn’t yet belong to . . . “
Overall, I found this to be an exciting new take on the way someone could be haunted. Dixon did an excellent job of maintaining the suspense throughout the entire novel, and of weaving in little snippets of the past to keep the reader constantly thinking about how everything would end up connecting in the big picture. The book captivated my attention from beginning to end, taking me mentally to places I would have never wished to go. I can’t wait to read some of the author’s other tales!