Many thanks to the author for the review copy.
Combining Dan Brown intrigue with Stephen King thrill, horror novella Dead Man’s Eye by Shaun Jeffrey is a fast-paced story shrouded in darkness and mystery with — let’s admit it! — a stunning cover image.
The novella narrates the experiences of Joanna Raines, whose dream of being a photographer are dashed when she develops Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy and loses her eyesight entirely. When a cornea transplant gives her back the gift of sight, it seems like a miracle… until she begins to see something that doesn’t want to be seen, something evil. The only trouble is that no one believes her, and by the time they do, it might be too late. Seeing is believing. Now Joanna just has to convince everyone else.
Surreal accidents, churches, holy water, and a hospital infested with demons: Dead Man’s Eye has many of the traditional trappings of a horror tale and delivers exactly what it promises. Immediately engaging and creepy, the novella offers a number of near-unexpected plot twists that pump up the pace, making this a very quick read indeed.
Joanna is a strong-willed character with a remarkable will to live. Despite no one believing her, she is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious shadows she is seeing, no matter how dangerous it will be. Other characters include Joanna’s boyfriend Stephen, who struggles to believe her; Lincoln, a one-armed man battling for control over his body; and Malachi, an impatient demon set on ruling the world. Given that this is only a novella, there is not much room for characterisation, but I did feel that the cast could have been fleshed out further.
One other area I would have liked to see further developed was the backstory to Joanna’s new cornea. While Joanna does find out who donated the cornea originally, and chase down the other recipient, I felt this plot thread fizzled out in favour of focusing on the action scenes, leaving me disappointed.
However, when it comes to action scenes, Jeffrey’s prose begins to shine. His writing is clean and evocative; he does a good job of conveying the world through Joanna’s blurry eyes. Other than a train accident near the beginning, the scary elements of the book are more on the creepy than gory side, with Joanna’s impaired eyesight really adding to the unsettling atmosphere.
Overall, I enjoyed this bite-sized horror tale and raced through it in two days. The ending — while abrupt — has a definite bang, with a closing teaser chapter leaving the door open for future novels. Other reviews have pointed out the similarity between this novella and The Eye (Jessica Alba), but having not seen the film, I can’t offer any comments on the subject.
In sum, if you enjoy creepy, adrenaline-fuelled tales, than this might be one for you.
This book is part of my ABC Indie Fiction Challenge!