Glenn Rolfe has become a must-read author for me over the past year or so. I have enjoyed all of his books and his last novel, Blood and Rain, was one of my favorite novels of 2015. I was happy to have an advance copy of his upcoming novella, Things We Fear, and did not wait long to start the book in hopes of a quick scare.
Summer is a time for renewal and adventure for the teachers at Fairington Elementary School. Once the final bell rings, Emily Young is finally free to explore her attraction to the Ed Tech from her room, Aaron Jackson, but she first must overcome her fear of being hurt again. Aaron has demons of his own and he forces himself to live by the ocean every summer to face his fear of the water and a monster that lives beneath the surface. Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes also has a secret from his past that he hides from the world but his secret. Unfortunately for Emily and Aaron, Matt does not face his fears. He unleashes fear upon others.
Aaron is starting to fall in love with Emily and their feelings for each other begin to blossom as summer kicks off. Matt has feelings for Emily as well. He wants her and will have her at any cost. Just when the world feels right and it looks like Aaron and Emily have found peace and maybe love, Matt is going to ensure that they will have to face the very things they fear the most.
Things We Fear is the story of obsession and fear taken to the extreme. The novella starts off strong with Matt stalking a pretty bartender and giving in to his obsession. Honestly, this was the strongest part of the book and set the tone for the rest of the story. Matt is a character of pure evil whose only concern for others is what he can get from them. In contrast, Rolfe gives us Emily and Aaron who the reader has no reason to dislike at all. The characters in the story are a little shallow with only Aaron getting any type of discernable backstory but this works due to the novella’s shorter length. The stage is set for a clash between evil and innocence as Rolfe brings all of the pieces together.
When all is said and done, Things We Fear is a good novella and an entertaining read but it is not among Rolfe’s best. The story moves fast and that keeps the action moving but the story seemed a rushed at times. I also was a little disappointed that the back story of Aaron’s fear of the water did not play a larger part in the story. It seemed almost as if Rolfe was building this up for a longer story but there was little payoff from the buildup. Much like Boom Town, this novella read almost as if it was a pared down portion of a larger story (although, unlike Boom Town, it does not feel as if it should be expanded upon) rather than having been developed for a novella-length story. All in all, Things We Fear is a quick and entertaining read that is a great way to fill in some time while we wait for Rolfe’s next novel and is recommended for horror fans.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. Things We Fear is scheduled to be released in March.