Mr. Cables by Ronald Malfi

For bestselling horror novelist Wilson Paventeau, the scariest novel of his career is one he didn’t write. It bears his name on the dust jacket and contains his bio near the end, but this enigmatic tome is not part of his oeuvre. And the most frightening thing about it may not be the tale between the covers, but the reason for its mysterious appearance in Paventeau’s life.

The IndieMuse Review

An Honest Book is a Dangerous Book

I’m fairly sure that, at one point during Ronald Malfi’s horror novella Mr. Cables, I was reading a book, about a man reading a book, that was about a man reading (you guessed it) a book. It is a jarring approach in a story that is meticulously laid out to unsettle and mislead.

Wilson Paventeau is a best-selling horror novelist, who is enjoying a level of success he could only have dreamed of in his previous life as a creative writing professor.

When Wilson is given a copy of one of his books at a signing, he does not recognize the title. The book bears his name, his bio and his picture, but it is not a book he recalls writing. What he first believes to be an elaborate prank soon becomes a terrifying ordeal, and one he believes is linked to past events Wilson thought long behind him.

I always seek out stories where a piece of art is given a supernatural or malevolent twist. A book that is cursed, a painting that drives you to madness; I find the concept of the power of art a fascinating subject well suited to horror and Mr. Cables is an excellent example of how effective such stories can be.

I was reminded of Stephen King’s “The Road Virus Heads North” when reading Mr. Cables. It is similarly psychological and unsettling, particularly in the first half, and both share similar themes (not to mention similar protagonists). It is during the second half of the book where Malfi takes the story in an unexpected direction and becomes a more reflective and haunting meditation on ethics and accountability.

What I found most striking about the story is how it manages to be so suffused with a palpable dread and a disquieting intrigue while at the same time being strangely and simultaneously uplifting and melancholy. It really does run a gamut of different tones, shifting subtlety and effortlessly to suit the direction of the story. It is an absolute masterclass in hooking the reader early on and pulling them through a story where the possibilities are endless and there is plenty to keep you engaged, but nothing to give things away too early in proceedings.

A strong story is nothing without equally strong characters as a basis, and Mr. Cables is a success in that regard as well. Wilson is an interesting lead, mostly likeable and relatable early on, and undeniably sympathetic once the story gets going, but there is more to him than first meets the eye and it was fascinating to see the journey he goes on in this book.

Perfectly paced, with a compelling protagonist and a fantastic hook, this is a masterful story from one of horrors top writers at the height of his powers. Unlike the stories main character, you certainly won’t regret picking up a copy of Mr. Cables.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

2 reviews for Mr. Cables by Ronald Malfi

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  1. Reena Gaulke  

    Excellent story! Full of surprises and moves right along.

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  2. Leonie Roehl  

    The writing was witty and the characters were memorable. I could so clearly visualize the characters that I wanted to see this as a movie.

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