Title: Through Dead Eyes
Author: Chris Priestly
Genre: YA Horror
Received for review from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads)
Alex joins his father on a business trip to Amsterdam. During the day he hangs out with the daughter of a family friend. They visit the usual sights but also coffee shops and flea markets off the beaten track. At one of these markets Alex spots an ancient-looking mask. Before he knows what he’s doing he buys it. Later, in his hotel room, he feels compelled to put the mask on. Alex is sucked into a parallel Amsterdam, one from centuries before which begins to reveal the dark past of both the building he is staying in and the little girl who once lived there . . . edging stealthily towards the terrible twist.
There was a lot to like about this creepy little yarn, but it never quite hit enough right notes to elevate it from a light read to something really engrossing.
The good, then.
It was creepy. Priestly does fear well, which he should do by now, having penned many very successful books within the YA horror genre. This is the first I’ve read, but I’ve heard many good things about his Tales of Terror series. And if this is anything to go by, I can see why he’s so popular. I was reading it in bed at night, with the Boyfriend sat next to me, and yet I still felt myself getting freaked out. (I am a total wuss.)
The characters were well drawn – and viewing them through Alex’s eyes allowed for lots of the audience seeing more of the characters than the protagonist is able to, which I love. I just think it’s so very clever when done successfully, which Priestly does.
On the not so good, there were lots of bits where I felt like the story wasn’t really going anywhere. There was lots of wandering around Amsterdam, which was all very nice, but didn’t really keep the pace up. And as the book was only very short, a lot of the time it felt like padding. It felt like it should have been a short story in a collection, rather than a short novel. I think it could have been very intense and scary as a short story, but fleshed out it just sagged a little between the frightening moments. Which does give wimps like me a chance to recover somewhat, but doesn’t do the overall tension many favours.
I’d definitely pick up another book by Chris Priestly if I saw one, but I won’t be rushing out to hunt one down. Through Dead Eyes was lots of promise that didn’t quite deliver, but overall was enjoyable.