Book Review: Gulf
If you love character driven quiet horror then THIS is the book for you!
SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old David is fading from his world, like a Polaroid picture in reverse. He longs to feel connected to something bigger. When his brothers discover the new extension at the rental cottage comes with a locked door, David finds the key first. Expecting to claim a bedroom, he opens a dimensional gateway instead, exploring abandoned versions of his world in different timelines, 1960s muscle cars alternating with crumbling cottages. Except now the dimensional bridge won’t close, and something hungry claws the door at night. David scours for clues to break the bridge, but each trip to the other side makes him fade more on his. Even if he succeeds, he risks severing his connection to his own world, and dying on the wrong side, forgotten.
David is a great protagonist; nuanced, complex, with relatable dreams and fears. The youngest in a large family of mostly boys, he is constantly overlooked, ignored, and neglected. So when he opens a doorway to multiple dimensions and accidentally alerts the monsters within, he finally feels like he has a purpose: defending his family against an evil that very well may swallow him up in the process. It’s a story filled with sincerity, genuine laughs, contemplative moments, and lots of underlying dread punctuated by scenes of outright fear.
Seriously, I’ve never found a locked door so scary, never been filled with such tension at what might happen if it were found open in the middle of the night. This is certainly a slow burn story, but it’s perfectly paced and full of great character-building. I really enjoyed the scenes on the “other side” of the door, and the ways David begins to disappear (physically and metaphorically) in the real world the more he crosses back and forth. At first some of the scenes where David’s family overlooks him felt exaggerated and unrealistic, but then I began to realize the tragic beauty in emphasizing these moments from David’s perspective.
I also loved the author’s writing style, and her ability to authentically articulate the mind of teenage boys is fantastic (if not disturbing in a few scenes haha). David certainly steals the show as our protagonist, but we learn enough about the other characters, typically through his relationships with them, to even out a mostly dynamic cast.
I cried, I laughed, I gripped the pages in terror – basically I got exactly what I want from reading this type of book. Highly recommend!
Thanks to @silvershamrockpublishing for the copy in exchange for an honest review!
If you want to learn more about Shelly Campbell and her work then check out her website (https://www.shellycampbellauthorandart.com) and follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShellyCFineArt) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/shellycampbellfineart/).