Book Review: Who’s There?
With Who’s There?, author Dimas Rio delivers an engaging collection of horror stories, full of entrancing settings, eerie scenes, and protagonists haunted by both guilt and ghosts. Rio has a clear and descriptive writing voice and I really like his style. I enjoy the way he draws the reader into the story and holds the full reveal until the end.
SUMMARY: These ghostly tales of revenge, greed, and desperation writhe and squirm in the dark corners of modern day Indonesia. Rich in cultural undertones that are uniquely Asian, these stories are in equal part grotesque and poetic, irreverent and spiritual, unusual and universal. Drawing on local folk tales of vengeful banshees, dusk-dwelling monsters, and other forms of the undead, this collection of five short stories will transport readers to the deep, dark abyss where demon forever resides: the human mind.
I wouldn’t necessarily say all of these stories are outright scary, but they do run the spectrum of horror from startling scenes to forlorn atmospheres and frightening folklore to chilling domestic violence, so I appreciated the variety in that regard. The monsters presented are also all terrifying in their own way, be they human or otherwise.
Here’s a brief rundown of the stories in this collection:
“Who’s There” – An unreliable narrator, drunk on an island vacation with friends and fiance, has done something unforgivable. The story slowly reveals more about this tortured soul and the crimes committed as it goes on. I liked the pacing and the creepy ghost, but I felt like there were still elements of the narrator’s background and motivations that I didn’t understand (4 stars).
“At Dusk” – A high school student is sent to interview a local author, who tells of a creepy song that summons the Kelinting (spirit dweller of the woods that kidnaps children and sucks their blood). Then the old man tells another story of growing up in a remote village and what happened when he ran into the woods one day…This creepy story is short and sweet with a couple of twists right at the end (5 stars).
“The Wandering” – A night security guard, alone in the upper story of an office building, begins to notice strange letters appearing out of nowhere. He reads the letters and gets drawn into their tale as they reveal shocking secrets to both him and the reader. I liked the set up and the ending of the story, but I felt like the middle dragged on for far too long (3 stars).
“The Voice Canal” – A short story about a boy at university talking to his deceased father on the phone. There’s not too much to it plot wise, but it is emotional and bittersweet nonetheless (3.5 stars).
“The Forest Protector” – A woman and her son both find escape from their unfortunate circumstances in their own ways. I really like how the story switches narration back and forth between the mother and her son, revealing insight into their own perspectives and relation to one another. Also, that last line hits real hard, in a good way. Content warning for self-harm and domestic abuse (5 stars).
Overall rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫