Publication Date: 18th Oct 2014
A copy of The Pariahs was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Erik Hofstatter in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.
Erik Hofstatter – what a fantastic name. Say it again Erik Hofstatter? Ever heard of him? I hadn't although I bet many had. This my friends is the best part of being a book reviewer and having your own blog open for review submissions. Every now and again someone actually comes along and takes a gamble that you will pick their book up and read it for them. I learnt a while ago that when a well-known name comes along and asks you for a review, you jump at the chance. I have also learnt that when someone you have never heard of comes along like Mr Hofstatter, you again jump at the chance to review it. You never know when you might pick up a little gem. Like this one.
Demyan and Akilina are brother and sister. They have been born in a radiation ravaged Russia after a nuclear disaster has left many, including themselves, severely disfigured and disabled from birth. In the middle of the night they are attacked, gagged and kidnapped and wake up in a cold dark cell. Demyan sets about trying to figure out where exactly they are and how they are going to escape. His only hope is a girl called Taisiya who he can talk to through a sewer pipe in the ground. He needs to escape this hell, before they all die.
This is a debut novella from Mr Hofstatter and quite a debut it is too. I’ve had to think about this one for a while because it’s quite hard to put into a category. It is horror but which type of horror? I would plump for psychological due to the immense strain the characters are put under.
Characters wise, you have the elder brother Demyan. He is only seventeen but already feels the pressure of being the man of the family after growing up with just his mother and sister. His disabilities don’t make this easy. Akilina is only 12. She is also quite mentally strong for her age but physically the weaker of the two. Taisiya is a different kettle of fish. You know nothing of her other than she has been in this prison for years. You don’t know her age or her medical condition. You know that mentally she is stronger than both Demyan and Akilina. She is able to roam free in the prison for some reason. She………nah, can’t tell you anymore.
You can tell this is a debut novella. The writing sometimes lets the story down but only in the way it’s put together. Sometimes it feels a bit rushed. Almost as if it could have been stretched out a bit more. This, though is the only complaint I have.
The eBook is beautifully put together so I can only imagine the paperback is as nice. Even though it is a short book, there are thirty eight chapters in it. They are short and to the point. Each chapter has its own title and it all fits together perfectly in describing the story.
It is split into three parts, telling the story from the point of view of Demyan then Akilina and finally Taisiya. The writing itself is almost gothic in style. You can imagine the story taking place during the time of the Russian Civil War even though it is quite clearly not. The chapters are punchy. They leave you asking for more as each one ends almost too quickly.
Suspense and seriously messing with your head is the name of the game in this one. The descriptive writing is fantastic in giving you a feel of the cold dark cells Demyan and Akilina are kept in. The feeling of hopelessness is immense and you just can’t see a way out of it for anyone.
And then comes the killer twist. The “totally out of nowhere” chapter that makes you want to throw your Kindle out the window. If you see this coming you should be writing books yourself. It totally changes the story and has you wondering what the hell is going on. Not long after that comes killer twist number two! If you thought the first was good then this is outstanding. It totally changes the story again and leaves you absolutely hating a character and basically wanting to punch their lights out. And then the end, sudden, leaving you screaming. You need to read it yourself to find out why.
To summarise: It’s a debut novella so it is going to have flaws. Every writer has to start somewhere. Don’t be looking for newbie mistakes. Look past them and lose yourself in the story. It is very well written and in a style that I loved from start to finish. It’s harrowing. It’s mentally horrific. If you look deeper it leaves a lot of unanswered questions about us as humans and our society worldwide. All in all this is very enjoyable. I will definitely be looking out for more from Mr Hofstatter.
★★★★ Nearly perfect for a debut.
★★★ Very creepy in parts.
You can buy The Pariahs here:
Two disfigured siblings are torn from their beds at night by The Government and transported into an isolated stronghold, hidden in the deepest and most hostile parts of Siberia.
Friendships will be formed and loyalties tested as the siblings struggle to locate one another, but tragedy lurks within the stronghold and blood relation does not always mean family. Destinies are interwoven and fates collide in this explosive novella from Erik Hofstatter, author of the acclaimed Moribund Tales.
Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer, who dwells in a beauteous and serenading Garden of England, where he can be frequently encountered consuming reckless amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. At a young age, he built a Viking ship and journeyed myriad sea miles away from native land in search of plunder and pillage.
His work appeared in various magazines and anthologies around the world such as Schlock, Inner Sins, Sanitarium and Psychopomp.
Moribund Tales, his first collection of short dark fiction was published by Creativia and became Amazon's Top 10 bestselling Horror anthology in UK, USA and Canada.
You can see more of Erik at his website
Erik’s author page can be found here.