Crown Publishers, NY (Nov 3, 2015)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ Hardcover/ 64 pp
Alright, folks. This is an interesting one. Why? Well, I thought you’d never ask. Let me go ahead and get on with it and tell you all about it then. First of all, let me start out by pointing out that the reviews online for this book are predominately, well, not very good at all. Terrible, actually. But, here’s the thing… I’m not really even sure why because the book (story really in this case) is absolutely fantastic. The writing on display here is nothing short of award-winning if not admirable, with one of the best first opening lines any of us has probably read in a very long time. Flynn metaphorically wakes us as the reader up and says, “Okay, pay attention to me and what I have to say right now…” throwing us that good old-fashioned horror bone (BAM!) against our own freewill and delving us straight into this great, little mini fantastic supernatural horror/suspense thriller gem of a book. She does this, you guys, in literally sixty-four pages of award-winning writing that is powerful enough to make an entire movie out of. Only a masterful storyteller has the ability to grab the attention of the reader and throw them straight into a piece of work like that, and Flynn literally does this here seemingly with no apparent effort whatsoever on the very first page. In the first paragraph. IN THE FIRST LINE! OMG, why am I screaming right now? Tomato, banana, am I right? I know, this is also a really great time and example for me to point out something really annoying that I’ve personally noticed about fans of specific authors (really people in general for that matter), but I’ll try to stay on point with the main point here in that I’m specifically talking about the point of award-winning masterful writers such as Flynn and/or other authors who have produced memorable works that have been picked up and turned into major Hollywood movies that have done very well, resulting in gaining a new and improved and much larger (perhaps even more mainstream) fan base and/or following of readers who will pick up the next available title based on the last simply because the name that did the movie, etc. So, in this specific scenario now we have a short story (a supernatural/horror/suspense/thriller, mind you, which differs a bit maybe too much from the author’s prior non-horror/non-supernatural work as well) that was also previously already published and already made available within the pages of another anthology. So, if you didn’t know that before paying the $9.99 or whatever this one was for a short story in print, and already owned that previously released anthology with this story in it… sure, I get that. BUT, here’s the thing and according to the substantial number of mixbag reviews I saw and read online, this wasn’t even close to being the case. The majority of the complaints were not only the length of the work, but of weak and narrow plot and structure, and I’m guessing here on this one but of the occasional goody-two-shoes overly conservative type of reader that we see leaving shitty reviews time and time again, who is not able to handle talking about a little bit of risky sexy time with our narrator’s handy line of prior sex work because of god knows what kind of personal issues they’re personally having to where they feel the need to try and demerit someone else’s art form for their own personally and extremely subjective belief system that anybody else in the world could turn around and point the same sort of blame back at them just like I am doing now, which, in return makes it a point of no return, and thus looking at your opinion from the outside looking in, you really have to stop and ask yourself, “Does it even matter at this point!?” Because let me tell you… It probably doesn’t. And, to all of that, I further say, rather ask, if you will… did you not even read the book!? Because the author gives us a lot. She gives us a lot as far as storyline/plot/structure is concerned within the very first pages of this book, and in only sixty-four pages in its’ entirety she manages to deliver us as the reader a masterfully unique and creative, well-written story jam-packed with more twists and turns than a lot of full length novels available on the market today.
Originally published as a short story titled “What Do You Do?” in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, The Grownup is a short story/novelette that has been retitled and republished as a solo release in a number of different formats. I found and picked up the small, white pocket-sized hardcover edition. Upon first glance, the book is absolutely beautiful, whilst sporting a bright yellow/lime greenesque back cover that ever so loudly reads in large, bold white text YOU LIKE GHOST STORIES?
“The house creaks all night long,” she said. “I mean, it almost moans…”
“A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.”
“Get as much money in as little time possible, and then go home and eat zebra cakes and watch arbitration-based reality court TV on a broken mattress amongst the stains.”
Reminiscent of her childhood recollections for survival in this overly trivial world with her mother, our narrator is an unnamed sex worker looking for a sudden change of pace when she takes a new job promotion. No more backroom handjobs, she’s moving on to bigger and better things, as she sets up shop in the front-room acting like a seasoned fortune teller psychic medium extraordinaire when she meets, Susan Burke. Susan is a distressed mother in dire need of the narrator’s services, living amongst the backdrop of your cliché haunted house—a Victorian mansion that’s well over a hundred years old with something more than just blood leaking from the walls.
Susan buys what our narrator is selling and together they arrange for her to come stay with her and her family in the haunted Victorian of yesteryear. Upon arrival we as the reader quickly discover there’s more than just the house that’s a little more than off-putting. What is up with her creepy kid, Miles? Why does Susan put up with his terrible behavior? We soon discover that the family’s past has something to do with it. This is where Flynn takes a moment to brag and shows us as the reader that she can step-up her literary skills better than anyone, as she gives us something overly cliché to vibe with at first, and then manages to throw us into the bloody, gruesome hooks of her story web that she’s been spinning right before our very eyes before reeling us in and spitting us back out and feeding us to the suspenseful horror wolves, in this case the wolves being at the heart of many twists and turns to come. Just when you thought you knew what was going on, the author throws us another curve-ball, further showcasing her skills as a masterful storyteller that only the best are able to achieve in a shorter piece of work such as this one.
Do yourself a favor and check this one out if you haven’t already!