Anthony Hains “Dead Works” Review

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , ,



Publisher: Damnation Books

Length: 144 Pages

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Anthony Hains’ new novella, Dead Works, is a pretty entertaining story that blends psychological thriller with the supernatural for a book that is hard to put down. Eric Hansen is a doctoral student in his college’s psychology program and is currently seeing patients as part of his practicum class. Eric is used to dealing with fairly normal concerns for his clients on campus – dating, roommate problems and anxiety – but his world is turned upside down when he meets his latest client, 13-year-old Greg DeHaven.

Greg’s mother set up an appointment for her son saying that he was afraid of certain things and Eric was fully prepared to deal with a case of anxiety or another disorder, but when Greg finally speaks, he tells Eric he has been experiencing terrifying visions of dead kids visiting his bedroom late at night. Greg’s mother explains that her and Greg’s father recently divorced and Greg spends most of his time with his father during summer. Eric thinks these visions are a result of Greg grappling with the radical changes in his life and are only intensified by the fact that Greg’s father and new girlfriend are both into New Age beliefs and feed into Greg’s visions by believing he has psychic gifts.

Listening to Greg’s story, Eric can’t help but remember one of his first clients, a freshman named Will Ferguson. Eric’s first session with Will challenged everything Eric had learned in his classes and had a direct impact on his subsequent experiences. Will reported visions that were strikingly similar to Greg’s; seeing the ghost of a kid everywhere he went. The visions were terrifying on their own, but Will starts to go off the rails when the boy finally speaks to him. He claims that Will understands their pain and explains that he lived in an orphanage where the director, a priest, commits horrible acts against the kids in his care. Despite Will’s belief in his visions, Eric still believes that there is a rational explanation for what is occurring. However, Will hands Eric a copy of a newspaper before unexpectedly running off that seems to confirm his story.

Eric’s sessions with Greg not only bring up memories of his session with Will, but also memories of his own traumatizing past. As these memories start to resurface, Eric’s world slowly starts to turn upside down as he begins experiencing unexplained occurrences of his own and the lines between reality and the paranormal slowly start to bleed together. While struggling with his own personal demons, Eric attempts to help Greg cope with his mysterious visions, but eventually realizes Greg is in grave danger. The story starts out leaning more towards the thriller genre – are these characters really experiencing something paranormal or is there a rational explanation for everything? – but things quickly ramp up into full on horror by the novella’s exhilarating conclusion.

Hains is currently a professor of counseling psychology and his real-world experience really helps the story of Dead Works shine. The psychological elements are well-explained, but at the same time are accessible to those who do not have any experience with psychology. This helps bring out the potential psychological ramifications of the clients’ claims and also gives the story credibility.

Some of the timeline transitions are a little jarring and take away from the story a little bit, but overall Hains has crafted a story that draws you in with an intriguing mystery and some pretty clever plot twists. The premise of Dead Works has been explored plenty of times before, but Hains manages to put his own spin on it and it is a very effective plot device. Dead Works may not be breaking new ground, but it is still a gripping story that will be sure to appeal to horror fans looking for a quick and haunting read.

Rating: 3.5/5


Anthony Hains Official Website

Damnation Books Official Website

Purchase Dead Works on Amazon


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