things-we-fear

BOOK INFO

Length: 98 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Where Nightmares Begin

BOOK INFO

Length: 219 Pages 

(A collection of the three novellas Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear)

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Review copy provided of “Things We Fear” in exchange for an honest review as part of the Things We Fear & Where Nightmares Begin Blog Tour 

Anyone who follows my reviews on The Horror Bookshelf knows I am a huge fan of Glenn Rolfe’s work. Since discovering Glenn’s debut The Haunted Halls back in 2014, I have been hooked on Rolfe’s brand of horror that feels both fresh and yet has an old-school feel to it. So when I was asked to join the blog tour for his latest novella Things We Fear from Samhain Horror, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes!

Things We Fear kicks off following Kasey Campbell, a bartender who has encountered almost every pick up line under the sun during her three-year stint at Patrick’s Place. An interaction with a mysterious stranger with good looks alters her evening from the standard slog into something a bit more ominous. He introduced himself as her “Next Best Night” and seemed fairly harmless, but after an interaction with a bar regular, Next Best Night sets Kasey on edge when he snatches her by the arm and hurls insults at her. Kasey is saved by her friend and bouncer Eric and despite the weirdness of the encounter, she forgets about the man shortly after.

It is then we are introduced to the perspective of Matt Holmes, the man who introduced himself as Kasey as “Next Best Night”. He is your stereotypical “tough guy type” and while he comes across as relatively harmless, he harbors a sinister secret. After being thrown out of the bar, he is determined to get his revenge on Kasey for humiliating him.

After a pretty intense opening, Rolfe introduces readers to the other two main characters in Things We Fear. Aaron Jackson is an Ed Tech at Fairington Elementary School and he has been haunted by nightmares about drowning since he was fifteen. Every time he slips into this dream he is gripped with terror and sees something that turns his blood to ice. Dr. Lewis, his therapist, says that the horrifying image is just Aaron’s brain giving a face to his fear, but it seems much more real to Aaron. The nightmares started after the accident at the swimming spot called the Ropes, where Aaron almost drowned. Often times when he is awakened by these terrifying nightmares, the only thing that can help him get back to sleep is by self-medicating with a few beers. In an attempt to at least lessen his fears, every summer after the school year is over, Aaron heads down to Old Orchard Beach and rents a beach house to be by the water. Although it seems crazy for him to want to be near his greatest fear, the comforts of the beach and being surrounded by familiar faces helps him deal with his anxiety.

Emily Young is also looking forward to the end of the school year and a chance to work on her writing and to finally tackle although her summer gets off to a creepy start when she notices a white SUV that seems to be monitoring her apartment until she goes outside and it takes off in a hurry down the street.

Heading into the final day of the school year, Aaron is contemplating leaving his job at Fairington Elementary after years of failing to make faculty. This year was his easiest yet as he worked with Emily Young, a beautiful teacher that he is constantly daydreaming about. After finally reaching the freedom of his car, he bumps into Emily and after an awkward bit of flirtation, Aaron invites her to look him up if she happens to head down to Old Orchard Beach over the summer. Shortly after the start of summer vacation, Emily finds herself needing to get away from town for a little while after she is shaken when her tire was slashed. She thinks it could have been just an act of teenage mischief, but the event still sets her on edge and makes her nervous to be home alone. She decides to book a hotel room near Old Orchard Beach and spend some time with Aaron. The two get over their initial awkwardness and soon kick off a summer romance. However, Matt has his sights set on Emily and when he sees Emily with Aaron, it sets Matt off and and begins a chain of events that will forever alter their lives.

Rolfe does a pretty good job with building up his characters and bringing their fears to life. Aaron Jackson is confronting his fear of the water after a disturbing event from his childhood and is haunted by a vision that is pretty terrifying. I don’t know if the thing Aaron sees is just a manifestation of his fears or if it really exists, but either way it gave me the creeps! Emily Young is trying to allow herself to open up after being hurt in relationships during the past, but is scared of her feelings for Aaron.

Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes doesn’t seem to have any fears of his own, but he does thrive off of causing fear in others. I hate to say it because this character is just the epitome of evil and sleaziness, but Matt Holmes was one of the more intriguing characters in Things We Fear. Matt is a dangerous predator and although he may not seem it at first, Matt is an intelligent person when it comes to his crimes. He is able to read people and adapt his personality to try to worm his way into their lives. In Emily’s case, he tries to portray himself as a nice guy, apologizing for his forward behavior and coming to her rescue at opportune times. When I am reading a novel, I like to try to visualize characters based off their mannerisms and descriptions. I don’t know why, but for some reason every time Matt popped up,  I couldn’t help but think of a homicidal version of Stifler from the American Pie movies. This is a novella so I understand some of his back story needs to be left to the imagination, but I would have loved to see more of how Matt developed into the type of person he is during Things We Fear. I think there is a pretty cool story hidden in there!

I also loved the interactions between Aaron and the Hersom’s, the couple he rents his cottage from every summer. It is clear that over the many years of renting from them, Aaron has built a strong relationship with them, almost like his own grandparents. He is particularly close to Mrs. Hersom, who teases him about his crush on Emily and is always reading the horror novels he sneaks to her.

Rolfe also does a perfect job of capturing the setting of Old Orchard Beach. I have never been to there before, but Rolfe’s vivid descriptions of the town – from the smell of the Atlantic to the small shops and landmarks that give these beach towns their own unique charm and identity – made me feel like I had been going to Old Orchard Beach all of my life. While I was reading Things We Fear, I couldn’t help but think of Stephen King’s Joyland, which is one of my favorite novels. I think that both of those novels have perfect settings that capture that feeling of nostalgia and the joys of summer while offering just a hint of darkness lurking below the surface.

I loved the way Rolfe utilizes the multiple view points of the characters, particularly how we see certain interactions from different point of views. Also, let me just say for the record that Matt’s chapters are downright creepy! I also think it was great how he takes the chapters of the teachers Emily, Aaron, and Matt and weaves them together with hotel worker Heather, in what seems like a random order until the different storylines slowly converge on one explosive event.

Things We Fear is a straight-ahead thriller that focuses solely on real life horror that could actually happen and shares a lot of the same atmosphere as his previous novella Abram’s Bridge. While there is plenty of evil and violence in Things We Fear, it is one of Glenn’s works that doesn’t feature any supernatural elements. That is unless you count the thing that appears in Aaron’s dreams, which is beyond creepy and I am surprised it hasn’t yet made an appearance in my own nightmares! 

If you are new to Rolfe’s work, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Where Nightmares Begin, which collects three of his novellas – Things We Fear, Boom Town, and Abram’s Bridge – in print for the first time. This is a great introduction to his work and shows off the versatility he is capable of. Boom Town (review) was a downright creepy sci-fi adventure and Abram’s Bridge (review) was atmospheric with a dark beauty. Where Nightmares Begin is a perfect starting point and I promise you won’t be disappointed with any of these novellas!

Glenn is one hell of a writer and continues to get better with each and every release. As much as I absolutely love Glenn’s more straightforward horror works, after reading Things We Fear, I hope Glenn continues to write more thrillers as he has a real talent for it. All I know is that regardless of whatever type of story he decides to tackle next, I will definitely be first in line to check it out!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Things We Fear: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore

Purchase Where Nightmares Begin: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore

Things We Fear tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Things We Fear & Where Nightmares Begin! – #ThingsWeFear #WhereNightmaresBegin #horror #scaryreads #novellas

Things We Fear Synopsis

Summer has just begun, and fear is in season.

School’s out, and the faculty at Fairington Elementary School are free for the summer. Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her classroom, but she’s afraid of being hurt again. Meanwhile, Aaron is determined not to let his phobia of drowning prevent him from enjoying the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But they’re about to learn real fear. Fairington is home to a monster. Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes has more to offer the ladies than a perfect smile. He’s a killer and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

Who at Fairington will conquer their fears? And who will fall to a psychopath’s hellbent rage?

Where Nightmares Begin Synopsis

A collection of the three novellas Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear

Monsters can hide anywhere. Under a bridge, below the earth…or behind a smile.

Abram’s Bridge

 When Lil Ron realizes the beautiful girl he met under Abram’s Bridge is a ghost, he sets out to make things right for Sweet Kate. His quest leads him into a tangle of small-town secrets as he uncovers a story of heartbreak, violence…and fear.

Boom Town

Thirty years after a notorious UFO encounter, the town of Eckert, Wisconsin, is besieged by mysterious rumbles from deep in the earth. As the earthly tremors grow stronger, two pre-teens discover a dislodged pipe spewing a strange, bubbling ooze. Their curiosity unleashes an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

Things We Fear

Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her Fairington Elementary classroom, but fears she’ll be hurt again. Aaron is determined to overcome his drowning phobia and enjoy the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But real fear lurks closer than they think. Fairington harbors a psychopath seething with hell-bent rage—and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

Praise for Glenn Rolfe

Praise for Things We Fear

Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I’ve encountered in recent years.” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

“Glenn Rolfe’s new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die).” — Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

“Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I’ve read about in recent times.” — Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

“Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable.” — Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

“In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments.” — David, Beneath The Underground

“There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax.” –Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror

Praise for Abram’s Bridge (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“This is a stellar debut from Glenn Rolfe, a tale that will give you chills as much as it will make you question the hardness in men’s hearts and the spirit of redemption.” –Hunter Shea, Author of The Montauk Monster and Island of the Forbidden

“If you’re looking for a page-turning who-done-it with a touch of the supernatural and a solid all around story that satisfies, then look no further.” –David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Unhinged

Praise for Boom Town (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

“Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this.” –Russell James, Author of Q Island

“Boom Town is a fun, fast-paced read packed with action, copious amounts of alien slime and an aura of creepiness that is sure to appeal to both horror and science fiction fans.” –Rich, The Horror Bookshelf

About Glenn Rolfe

glenn-bw-profile

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

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