Friday 12 June 2015

REVIEW: Christine Hayton - Scarecrows

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication Date: 5th May 2015
Pages: 100


I received an advance copy of Scarecrows by Christine Hayton from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Samhain Publishing.

Never read Christine Hayton before. Saw this on NetGalley and liked the description so picked it up. So many good points and so many bad but a really good read into the bargain.

In 1964, Robert gets wakened by his wife Clare. She can’t find their daughter Cathy. Robert goes searching and finds her asleep in a corn field close by. She is covered in blood, not her own, and she is holding his axe. Close by is the very dead body of her classmate Emily.

Cathy gets put into an asylum for kids while doctors try and fathom why she did what she did. She tells everyone it was the scarecrows that murdered Emily. No one believes her. They should have.

This is one that is in that grey area between a short story and a novella. Not quite short enough for a short but not quite long enough for a novella. It’s what I like to call a “shovella”. At about one hundred pages you can read this in a short few hours.

This is classic horror. It has murder caused by an unseen force with no witnesses apart from a five year old girl who is presumed to be the killer. She tries to tell everyone she watched the scarecrows from her window at night walking around the corn field. No one believes her but everything points to the fact she is telling the truth. It has a “retarded” (the stories description not mine) boy that makes the scarecrows but no one suspects he is involved. A family surrounded by tragedy. A country setting where bad things have been happening for years. A deep pond where it is rumoured the mob dumped bodies for years.

This has a real old feel about it. It felt more like the 70’s than the 60’s to me. Felt very like The Omen in its atmosphere. It is scary. It is creepy. It is old school horror.

The book jumps about a bit from the past to the present telling the story from different angles. This helps you get a better picture of the driving forces behind the murder, the families, and the problems the doctors have to deal with in helping young Cathy. You can feel the absolute despair of her father, the hatred in the community and the torture of everyone involved.

Those are the good bits.

The negatives? At times the writing in this is absolutely awful. The narrative is so stop and go that the story almost falls on its face. If this was a film you could imagine the actors being cardboard cut-outs instead of humans. It reads as something that, if edited at all, must have been done by someone either very drunk or half awake. I normally try not to be cruel about books but this was just awful at times.

This really disappoints me. Why? Because the story was so bloody damn good. The way it was structured was brilliant. Like I said before it was so much like the old school horror I grew up with and loved so much. If it had just been written / edited better. Close but no cigar.

To summarise: classic horror style. Very creepy and will send the shivers up your spine. Really disappointing writing at times. If you get this (and I urge you too because in a weird way you will enjoy it) stick with it. Don’t let the writing style put you off. You will definitely enjoy it. I just hope you don’t get as frustrated as me. With a little bit more effort in this I would be rocketing this book into my top ten for the year. Alas though, it won’t get near it.

General rating:

★★★.5 Good but could have been so much better.

Horror rating:

★★★★ Very creepy.

You can buy Scarecrows here:

Book Synopsis:

They do more than frighten birds. Much more.

Early one morning in the fall of 1964, Robert searched for his missing six-year-old daughter, Cathy. He found her asleep in a nearby cornfield, covered in blood and holding a small axe. A few feet away lay the mutilated body of her classmate Emily.

Assumed guilty of murder, Cathy lived in a hospital for insane children. She always gave the same account of what happened. She talked of murderous scarecrows that roamed the cornfield on moonlit nights. Her doctors considered her delusional. The police, her neighbors and the press thought she was dangerous. And so she remained incarcerated. No one believed her. That was a mistake.

Christine lives in Windsor, Ontario with her family. She is an avid reader, but her true love is writing. She enjoys reading literary, classics, horror, and contemporary fiction. Her retirement from the world of accounting and business management, turned into a full-time writing career in 2012.

Samhain Publishing, Ltd. is releasing “Scarecrows”, her first horror story, May 5, 2015. Currently she is editing her first contemporary fiction novel. The first draft of the second novel is complete, and the outline for a third is in construction. These will complete the 3-book series, and she is hoping a Canadian publisher will scoop them up.

Christine likes to juggle several ongoing projects at once. She is currently writing books, novellas, and short stories. She blogs and posts various short stories on her Wordpress Site.

You can see more of Christine at her website.

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