May 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

spectersSpecters by J.M. Dillard


Even twenty-seven years ago, books about child molester serial killers were cliched. That premise doesn’t automatically mean a story using it would be terrible, but Specters doesn’t do much original with that idea. That this was one of the first books published under the “Cutting Edge” of the Dell/Abyss line is that much more disappointing.

To be fair, Dillard does a good job with the story. She writes well, and her characterization is convincing. Bruder, the antagonist, could have been evil simply because he molests children, but Dillard doesn’t rely on just that to make him evil. He’s a bad person because he lacks empathy and treats people as disposable; the whole molesting children thing is just an extension of all that. He begins to break down toward the end of the story, but that could be because the author is making him more and more unstable as his insanity goes deeper and deeper. The parts didn’t cohere into a solid enough story for me.

Dillard also plays around with the idea of the story being a supernatural one, since Bruder sees ghosts or he could be seeing hallucinations brought on by his own deeds. It’s vague enough that the reader can try to guess, but then she also gives the two protagonists (twins) a psychic connection. So it suggests that the supernatural is real in the story, even though it would be more effective to have us guess at Bruder’s ghosts.

Specters is definitely better than Dusk, and doesn’t smack of ’80s/’90s-misogynistic horror like Nightlife threatens to do in places, but I don’t see this as being on the level of what Dell/Abyss promised. So far, it seems like the books from the line written by women hold up better than those by men, but I’m only four books into this project so far. We’ll see.

Started: March 20, 2018
Finished: March 30, 2018

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