One would think that with all the fiction with clear reasons why one should flee from this kind of job description, that characters would run screaming in the opposite direction when offered a job with weird instructions. at a remote country estate teaching children. And yet, Danna Valdez accepts just such an offer at the outset of The Atrocities, by Jeremy C. Shipp. Valdez experiences a full share of horror in her brief stay in this very short novelette. It’s a wonder anyone makes it out of the book alive.
The Atrocities of the title are the sculptures in the maze around and inside Stockton House. These grotesques depict humans suffering creatively appalling deaths. If it had been me, I would have noped out of the job offer immediately. Valdez is made of sterner stuff, guided by her need to help people. She wants to help Isabelle Evers however she can. Isabelle is, for some unexplained reason, unable to go to school with other children. The isolation is causing her to act out, Valdez is told.
Valdez gets another opportunity to escape Stockton House when she learns what’s really going on. She decides to tough it out. Her disturbing dreams and hints of something that might have gone wrong in her past help explain why, but I still marveled at what Valdez decides to take on because things are very, very wrong at Stockton House.
Because it is so short and so full of vivid events that made me question what was real and what wasn’t, The Atrocities is a thrilling ride. I was worried that if I put it down, I would lose the ominous atmosphere that the book created. I admit that I was also worried about Valdez. I didn’t want to pause my reading until I knew if she would be okay. This book would be a great read for readers looking for a genuinely scary horror story.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration. It will be released 17 April 2018.