The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Posted On 19 April 2018

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The Atrocities, a haunting gothic fantasy of a young ghost’s education

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.

But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there…?

the atrocitiesThe Atrocities is only a short story and I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to keep this rather to the point in terms of focus.

The description above is taken directly off Goodreads and is a pretty good set up for what you can expect from this read- at least in terms of the majority of the book.  This definitely falls into the gothic category.  A dark and foreboding country home, a grotesque maze that acts as a barrier to the outside world, a rather starchy governess and a husband and wife who seem to be in the throes of grief.  The husband seems like a mad eccentric with a penchant for monstrosities and the wife appears to have lost her grip on reality somewhat.  To all intents and purposes this is a ghost story set within the walls of a very unusual, surreal and disturbing mansion but, believe me when I say that this is anything but a straightforward haunting.

For me this book reads almost like a dream sequence.  Anything can happen in your dreams after all and that’s the feeling that pervades this book.  It’s bizarreness is gripping to say the least and that oddity, coupled with the fact that this can be read in little more than an hour or so definitely held me captive.  The story is narrated by Ms Valdez and I must confess that she keeps her cool demeanour even under the most frightening circumstances.  There’s no way I would have been able to sleep in that house, in fact, to be honest, I would have turned back halfway through the creepy maze.  I’m a wimp.  What can I say.

You’re probably thinking I’m not really telling you much here but that’s because it’s difficult.  Put basically, if you fancy a creepy story, a ghost story that is something more than you expected coupled with some downright hideous imagination then this could be just the book for you.

The calmness of Jane Eyre meets the madness of Wonderland except Wonderland has turned into a dark nightmare, and, like nightmares I’m not entirely sure that I understand the ending, In fact, to be honest, I’m not even sure if there’s supposed to be a clear cut ending – it makes me wonder if people will take something different from this book.  It definitely made me reconsider things.

I don’t really have any criticisms.  I guess in some respects I’m a bit of a stickler for wanting more clarity in terms of the ending – it’s a bugbear of mine – but, in this case the ending kind of fits somehow.  Just be aware that this is dark, twisted and unusual.  It’s also shorter than I would have liked which leaves the ending feeling very rushed but, again, I don’t really make a secret that shorter stories are not usually my thing – just every now and again I get grabby hands and in this particular instance my greed paid off with a good story.  Would I have loved this to have been worked into something longer – yes and no.  I’m not sure, it might have been just too much to handle in an expanded version.

On the whole a creepy number, it would fit in well on the darker nights if your constitution can take it and it lives up to its name.

I received a copy, through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



12 Responses to “The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp”

  1. Tammy

    This was hard to review without spoilers. I realized in my first draft of my review that I had given away too much, so I had to go back and edit😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – I don’t feel like I’ve really said anything about the story – I do struggle to review short stories.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    Some great thoughts on this one. It was a hard book to review and I definitely agree that it read like you were watching a dream. Hey, maybe it was. The ending definitely paved the way for some numerous interpretations.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I couldn’t help wondering if there would be different interpretations of this one – part of me couldn’t help but wonder.
      Lynn 😀

  3. sjhigbee

    A really accomplished review, Lynn. Clearly this one was difficult to discuss without straying into spoiler territory and yet you managed it!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Kept it short! It was a short story after all so I didn’t want to say too much.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    From your words one can feel the effort of the difficult balancing act you needed to perform between enticing readers and not giving away too much – so congratulations on a work well done are in order 🙂
    And this sounds so delightfully weird that I would not think twice about reading it!

  5. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I really like the sound of this one!! Even if there arent too many details (which is good, especially with a story this short)

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I was really excited about this, but after reading some reviews, I’m thinking this one might not be my kind of horror because of the strangeness and sequences that you and others have described as dreamlike. But I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I suppose that’s only my thoughts on the matter – it felt dreamlike in terms of the strangeness, the bizarre, like how a dream can be anything – this felt a bit like that.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Jennifer | Book Den

    I’ve been very much in the mood for shorter works lately so I will probably pick this one up. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a very unusual read – gothic, strange, a bit mind bending – I look forward to seeing what you make of it.
      Lynn 😀

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