Something Stirs – Thomas Smith

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Taberah Press

Publication Date: May 2011

Reviewed by Josh Olds

QUICK HIT – When a successful writer and his family move into their dream house, they expected it would turn into a nightmare. In Something Stirs, Thomas Smith gives readers a genuinely scary story with a genuinely redemptive message.

It waits. Not patiently; never patiently. It was summoned, but not fully. Now it’s trapped between one world and another in the very fabric of this house. But not for long, not forever. It grows stronger by the day, feeding on the blood it takes, testing its power until it is strong enough to take a host. Then the real fun will begin.

Ben Chalmers never thought he would get to live in such a nice house. For so many writers, the hours spent pouring themselves into the page never resulted in the monetary success he was now enjoying. It was a whirlwind adventure that’d blown him away. His wife, Rachel, is a promising artist in her own writer—a painter—and their daughter, Stacy, is the joy of their lives. Moving into this house, nestled right outside a small town, will be absolutely perfect for their needs. Or so they think.

No sooner do they move in before strange things start happening inside the house. Workers finishing up construction are injured in freak accidents or parts of the house keep coming apart. Despite the weirdness, the Chalmers’ befriend Jim Perry, a pastor-turned-cabinetmaker, who soon gets caught up in the matter as well. It soon becomes evident that the house is no ordinary house…and that the entity that moves it wants to take a human soul.

Simply put, Something Stirs is scary. And good. And scary good. I made the mistake of picking this one up at about 2am to just thumb through a few chapters. Four hours later, the sun was rising and my heart rate was slowly returning to normal. Smith’s writing drew me in, held me there, and left me unable to do anything but finish the book. The book’s pacing—integral to the horror genre—is absolutely perfect, slowly building to the climax with perfectly timed reveals and twists.

Perhaps one of the greatest testaments to Smith’s writing is his positive use of predictability. When you read as much as I do, and when you study writing, you begin to think as the author thinks. Something may be clichéd because it’s used a lot and therefore predictable, yet the predictable elements of the plot didn’t lose any of their scariness. Smith portrayed them in a way that fit the storyline and still scared me. And when I can anticipate what’s going to happen and still be surprised by how it plays out—well, that’s a sign of great writing.

Christian horror is a genre that’s often too tame or too preachy—as if Christians don’t want to face evil in its fullest. Secular horror, on the other hand, rarely offers real answers or any type of redemption, simply scary for scary’s sake. Smith balances a scary story with a biblical theme. The Christian elements are not preachy but rather result from having Christian characters waging spiritual warfare against a demon. If you’ve read and enjoyed authors such as Frank Peretti, Travis Thrasher, or Mike Dellosso you’ll definitely enjoy Something Stirs.

 

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Author: Josh Olds

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