Dying Embers out now

Dying Embers out now

Sunday 11 January 2015

Review: Knock Knock by S.P. Miskowski

S.P. Miskowski's novel Knock Knock was first published a few years back, and introduces the unsuspecting reader to Skillute, a failed logging town in Washington, where "... few events rose in significance above the routine of work, Sunday worship, and the weekend six-pack." It soon becomes apparent, however, that an undercurrent of evil exists just beneath the surface.

Miskowski is a skilled writer, and she intertwines the past and present with ease. The reader is drawn in relentlessly, ever more eager to find out how the actions of the three young girls during the 1960s can cast such a long shadow over the present-day. The local superstition of "Miss Knocks" that they unearth rings true in such a bleak setting; and, when the shocks come, they are very effective.

This is a story steeped in atmosphere, from the dark woods surrounding Skillute to the dilapidated Misty Mart local store. All the characters are well observed and darkly believable. The tension, which builds steadily throughout, is aided by the structure Miskowski uses; each chapter is told from a particular perspective, which is striking and makes the book stand out. Myriad pathways are formed, rich detail is revealed, and connections are made at different stages of the narrative.

I must admit I found it difficult to put this book down – I read Knock Knock in a couple of sittings, and I'm about to follow it up with Delphine Dodd, the next in the Skillute cycle. This kind of tale lends itself perfectly to a follow-up, and I'm pleased that Miskowsky has since added two more novellas, Astoria and, more recently, In The Light.

Lovers of intelligent, literary horror will appreciate Knock Knock as a worthy addition to a fine tradition, and it also manages to brings its own twist to the genre. It is lovingly-crafted and tense to the last page. Highly recommended.

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