Posts Tagged ‘The Detained’


Length: 112 Pages

Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Kristopher Triana’s The Detained follows four former classmates heading to their old high school for their 20th reunion. Each one has their own reasons for attending, whether it’s overcoming their fear, showing everyone how much they’ve changed, or to simply reliving their glory days. However, as the former classmates arrive at the school, they realize something isn’t quite right. The cafeteria doesn’t look like it’s set up for a reunion at all. There are no decorations set up, no music and no crowd of their former classmates milling around catching up with one another. The only things in the cafeteria are five long tables set up to face a desk where Noah Dixon, former P.E. teacher and principle, sits waiting patiently. Sandy is the first one to say it looks less like a reunion and more like a detention. They begin to wonder if they’re in the wrong part of the school or if maybe someone is pranking them. When they finally decide to look around the school, they find that the doors are locked and they are trapped in the cafeteria.

They pull out the seats at the tables and realize there are grisly mementos sitting in each of their chairs, recalling the worst moment in their shared history. It is now they realize that they may be trapped in the school for a reason and someone wants to force them to confront the memory of that fateful day 20 years ago.

The strength of The Detained is easily the characters. The former classmates easily fit into standard archetypes at first glance, but what makes them stand out is the nuances to their character. Phoebe seems to be the picture of success after working her entire life to escape from Bonneville and put the horrific events of her high school years behind her. She’s a child psychologist who runs her own practice and has helped numerous kids work through their own issues and fears. Yet even with all of her accomplishments, Phoebe battles anxiety daily and struggles to follow the advice she has given to so many. Tyler was an outsider during his high school years, the product of being constantly picked on for most of his early childhood. He learned quickly that fighting back was his only chance of surviving the high school hierarchy, which led to many saying he was destined for jail or an early grave. As an adult, he is a successful horror author who realized how the violence he struggled to control could harm others. What’s interesting about his story is seeing why he developed this reputation and the real reason behind some of his illegal activities.

Sandy is a former cheerleader who is a bit of a smart ass and still carries around her sense of entitlement that she developed as being one of the most popular girls in school. Sandy is still attractive, but we learn that her life isn’t quite what she had hoped. The girl who was used to having all the attention she could ever want, now craves it more than ever. Bill, who went by the nickname “The Champ” all through high school, was the star running back at Bonneville High. He likes to think that he has moved on from his high school glory days, but the fact is he still feels the pull of nostalgia. He can’t help but blame wife Becky for the way his life turned out. He fell in love with her in high school, but now he can’t stand to be around her. Bill is the character you love to hate throughout The Detained because he is pretty much an asshole the entire time. There is one small instance where a bit of humanity seems to shine through, but it’s quickly extinguished.

Triana weaves parts of Graham’s story into the main narrative through the memories other characters have of him, which starts when they start the discovering the mementos. He was picked on by everyone in the entire school because he was viewed as being socially awkward and brought his comic books and action figures to school. Triana gives a vivid portrayal of the hell Graham had to go through and I couldn’t help but cringe when I saw how his classmates treated him.

Triana uses sections where he shows each character’s internal thoughts, which helps explain their backstory in an engaging way and introduce their personalities. I also loved how he was able to effortlessly switch between the point of view of each character. That can be jarring to pull off – especially in a shorter work – but Triana nails it. However, I think the characters really shine through Triana’s use of realistic dialogue and the interactions they have with each other. Even though two decades have gone by, it doesn’t take long for old tensions bubble to the surface. Triana’s decision to keep the scope of the story contained to the school is one that really works. It’s home to an incredible amount of sadness and tragedy, which amplifies the horrors that face the characters and creates a heavy atmosphere that leads to numerous scenes of palpable dread. One of my favorite lines captures this feeling perfectly. “The darkness was molasses thick, a smothering pall that took the already tense situation and germinated it into a full-blown nightmare.”

Being trapped in the school creates a sense of paranoia that brings out the worst sides of each character, though some are more susceptible to it then others. They accuse each other of planting the artifacts and orchestrating the entire nightmarish reunion, saying how easy it would be. Even when they figure out what is really going on, that sense of distrust only increases. The Detained is largely driven by the psychological horrors the characters face after digging up old memories, but there is no shortage of supernatural scares sure to delight horror fans. I don’t want to go into too much detail and ruin it for others, but there is a big scene in the latter half of the novella that is awesome. Trust me, you’ll know what it is when you read it!

The plot of The Detained may not offer much in the way of surprises, but the interactions between the characters and some of the scenes more than make up for it. This was my first time reading Triana’s work, but there is no denying his skill as a storyteller. His writing style is engaging and has a cadence that grabs the reader right from the start and never lets go.  The pacing is excellent, with no shortage of tension and the result is a compulsively readable story that is easy to rip through in one sitting. I really dug The Detained and I recommend it to any horror fan. There is a pretty good balance of violence and gore for fans of some more extreme stuff and psychological horror. The Detained is a damn good novella and I think it’s time I go back and check out Triana’s back catalog, particularly The Ruin Season. I have heard nothing but great things about it and now that I have a sense of his writing style from The Detained, I’m sure I will dig it. I’d also like to take a moment to highlight Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. They have an eye for talented writers and put a lot of work into every aspect of their releases. If you haven’t read one of their titles yet, you are missing out on some top-notch horror.

Rating: 4/5


Kristopher Triana’s Official Website

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing’s Official Website

Purchase The Detained: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

About Kristopher Triana

Kristopher Triana is an American author. His works include The Ruin Season, Body Art and Growing Dark. His next horror novel, Full Brutal, is scheduled for release in 2018 by Grindhouse Press. His fiction has appeared in many magazines, anthologies, audio books and on websites, and some of his stories have been translated to Russian. His novel Body Art was translated to German by Festa Verlag. His fiction has drawn praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Rue Morgue Magazine, Cemetery Dance and more. While primarily a horror writer, he also writes crime fiction, literary fiction, southern gothic, noir, westerns, and whatever else his brain sets ablaze.

Born in New York in 1977, Triana was yanked down to Florida at the age of nine and was forced to grow up there, much to his chagrin. Luckily he had heavy metal music and John Carpenter movies to get by on. Once he was old enough, he escaped all that pesky sunshine, and since then he has lived up and down the east coast, from New England to the rural Carolinas. He is obsessed with all aspects of the horror genre, and has amassed a staggering collection of cult films, horror books, movie memorabilia, busts and Halloween masks. He also has a very strong love of animals.

He works as a professional dog trainer and lives in Connecticut with his wife.