Today we welcome Michael Aloisi to share his thoughts on Rebecca Rowland’s THE HORRORS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT. Thanks for sharing with us, Michael! You can learn more about him at his website. If you have an original review you’d like to share with Horror After Dark please click HERE!
Three adolescent bullies discover that the vicious crime for which they were never charged will haunt them in unimaginably horrific ways; a dominatrix and a bondage fetishist befriend one another as one’s preoccupation grows to consume his life. A man persuades his wife to start a family, but her reluctant pregnancy comes with a dreadful side effect. A substitute teacher’s curiosity about a veteran teacher’s methodology provides her with a lesson she won’t soon forget. An affluent, xenophobic lawyer callously kills two immigrants with her car with seeming impunity; a childless couple plays a sadistic game with a neglected juvenile each Halloween. An abusive father, a dating site predator, a neglected concierge, and an obsessed co-worker: they are all among the residents of Rebecca Rowland’s universe, and they dwell in the everyday realm of crime and punishment tempered with fixation and madness. There are no vampires, zombies, or magical beings here; no, what lurk in this world are even more terrifying. Once you meet them, you will think twice before turning your back on that seemingly innocuous neighbor or coming to the aid of the helpless damsel in the dark parking lot. These monsters don’t lurk under your bed or in the shadows: they are the people you see every day at work, in the supermarket, and in broad daylight. They are the horrors that hide in plain sight, and they will unsettle you more than any supernatural being ever could.
Michael’s 5 Star Review
Forget ghosts, forget zombies and insane clowns; as demonstrated in Rebecca Rowland’s impressive first collection, real horrors are Hiding in Plain Sight.
The mass rush of evil spirits and the constant influx of the undead that berate us in the media on a constant basis is a trope that has been done, too many times. That is why Horrors is so refreshing; there are no monsters, spirits or even a whiff of the walking dead. Throughout the seventeen stories Rebecca explores sexual fetishes that have gone wrong, revenge, a game of chance, dark mistresses, twisted love, and the scariest thing of all, insanity.
Bent focuses on a real sexual fetish (that lots of readers may be learning about for the first time) that gets out of control and leads down a dark path. Told from two characters’ points-of-view, Rowland does an excellent job getting inside the head of someone who crossed the line from fetish to harm and crime. It’s a powerful story that really explores that fine line between fantasy and crime.
In Open House, a couple plays a sick game once a year and the story contains a twist no one will see coming. When the childless couple go to a open house for a local school, they set up a play date for their imaginary daughter. When the poor soul shows up, they torture and taunt him for their own pleasures, but things aren’t what they seem.
Some pregnant woman crave pickles and peanut butter, but in The Munchies, this particular mother-to-be craves something much worse. This particular short story fits into the classic, creepy horror canon, and at the same time, while Rowland carefully crafts a story that seems bizarre and something that could only be fiction, it focuses on a real infliction. This is why this collection really resonates: everything in this book could and does happen. While a giant drooling monster might be scary, when you put down a book about one, you know it can’t get you. When you put down Horrors, it makes you look at the people around you and you wonder, what dark secrets might they have?
What Rowland does best is get into the minds of the characters who border on insanity. She never once treats them as “”crazy people,”” like a lot of writers and movies do, or straight out shows they are “insane” or “crazy.” In fact, she delicately showcases each character for who they are, making them so human they could be your neighbor or even a family member. In the end, she shows the reader that the mind and humans are truly the scariest thing in the world, for we are the real monsters.
About The Author
Rebecca Rowland grew up in Western Massachusetts but spent much of her early adult life in the Boston area. As an indecisive undergraduate, she vacillated between majors, changing from journalism to advertising to film until finally settling on a double major in English and Psychology. She received her master’s degree in English from Simmons College and Master of Education from Cambridge College before pursuing an advanced graduate certificate in Library Information Science at Kent State University. After teaching high school English for many years, she became a librarian and freelanced as a copy-editor for graduate students, publishing houses, a celebrity’s blog, and a large public union. Her first published work was a ghostwritten memoir of a former victims’ rights advocate. She is a proud member of both the American Library Association and the Horror Writers Association, sincerely appreciates sharp satire, quick wit, and well-written psychological horror, and lists her literary influences as Flannery O’Connor, A.M. Homes, and Chuck Palahniuk. Despite her infatuation with the ocean and unwavering distaste for icy weather, she has made a home with her family in a land-locked city of New England.
Visit Rebecca at her website: https://rowlandbooks.com/