Being Small, by Chaz Brenchley

Review copy provided by author.

I don’t read horror, mostly. And this is horror-ish. And I read it anyway, and no, I don’t read everything that people send me to review, not even by authors whose stuff I’ve liked previously, not even by authors I’ve hung out with at cons and been online pals with. (Oh yeah. I should put that disclaimer in.)

I used to say things like “the stuff I like is dark fantasy, and the other stuff is horror,” but this is not, really, this is just horror. It’s the quiet psychological stuff. Michael had a dead fetal twin in his belly, cut out when he was tiny, and he’s had his dead fetal twin, Small, inhabiting his thoughts his whole life. Small is with him, shaping him, constraining him, losing to him at chess, complaining when he smokes pot, unable to read, unable to make friends, unable to forget.

Now Michael, isolated by his mother’s theories about how her twin sons–alive and dead–should think and learn, finally gets to meet his own oddly assorted set of friends–one of whom is dying. Michael feels that he knows something about this, having lived with a dead twin in his head for all of his sixteen years. The rest of his friends are kind and welcoming to him despite or because of that, but what role Small plays in Michael’s treatment of the dying is closely written and perfect for the 16-year-old they both are, living and dead. The spiraling ending is chilly and horrible and yet fits the warmer tones of the short book leading up to it perfectly.

Not my usual sort of thing, but if you’re not turned off by the description of what sort of internal/external ghost story this is, it may well be worth stepping outside your usual too.

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