Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

Abby Gillman has discovered that with growing up, there comes a lot of blood. But nothing prepares her for the trail of blood she sees in the hallway after class—or the ghost she finds crammed inside an abandoned locker.

No one believes Abby, of course. She’s only seeing things. As much as Abby wants to be believed, what she wants more is to know why she can suddenly see the dead. Unfortunately, they won’t tell her. In fact, none of them will speak to her. At all.

Abby leaves for her annual summer visit to her uncle’s house with tons of questions. The visit will give her answers the ghosts won’t—but she may not like what she finds out.

The IndieMuse Review

The Sixth Sense Meets Carrie

Sonora Taylor’s latest novel puts a new spin on the Coming-of-Age horror sub-genre with a mix of family drama, murder mystery and full-on horror.

Abby is a thirteen-year-old girl with a seemingly normal life, with a loving family and good friends. This normality is short-lived, however, as she begins to see things that others can’t. Trails of blood and mysterious figures that roam the school halls, or horrifically mutilated bodies stuffed into school lockers. Nobody believes her at first, assuming she is telling stories based on an infamous school legend that nobody believes anymore.

When the opportunity arises for her to visit her uncle at an idyllic family-home she spent long summers at in her youth, she thinks this is just the break she needs to get away from the blood-soaked visitations that have been haunting her. Her visit will be far from the escape she thought it would be when she becomes embroiled in a local missing person case that will reveal more about her supposed gift than she ever wanted to know.

I really enjoyed the unusual melding of genres that Seeing Things delivered. This is, very firmly, a horror book. The book’s ghosts are presented as grotesque and disturbing, with hollowed-out eyes, flayed skin and rivers of blood. Taylor doesn’t shy away from vividly lurid descriptions and the story, at least at first, presents itself as a straight horror book about a young girl who sees these horrifying things everywhere she goes. The book’s opening line (“One thing Abby learned about growing up was that there was a lot of blood involved”) is no exaggeration.

Expectations are soon subverted, however, as the focus switches more to Abby’s family dynamic, as told through the lens of her newfound abilities. Abby is quick to accept what she cannot change, and the story is moved forward by how her family and friends react to her claims, rather than relying on jump scares or gory images to keep the reader interested. The ghosts become more of a device to tell a different story, than the focus of the story itself, and it leads nicely into an intriguing mystery about a missing girl. This element works particularly well, as we’re given enough clues throughout to slowly piece things together, with enough red herrings thrown at us to keep things interesting.

Being guided through the story with a thirteen-year-old protagonist also proves to be a winning choice. Abby comes across as very authentically her age. She is intelligent, kind, and as curious as she is frightened by her new ability to see dead people, but she also acts like a teenager, mood swings and social awkwardness and all, and it was interesting to see the story through the eyes of someone more open to the experience, but less self-assured about how to go about it, than perhaps an adult protagonist may have been.

Seeing Things was a refreshingly different take on a classic ghost story, a deftly blended mix of multiple genres anchored by a fantastic lead character. If you’re in the market for a coming-of-age horror story unlike any you’ve read before, this book absolutely fits the bill.

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.

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