book review, horror

Scratches by Joshua Marsella

A dark novella that focuses more on the horror people do than on the preternatural.

Twelve year old Connor has just moved into his deceased grandfather’s house. He never even met the man, and now his distant mother has started drinking more than usual.

Connor moves his bedroom down to the basement to have a cooler space, but that’s when the scratches start.

Marsella’s debut novel has a strong plot, all about the damage that parents do to their children down the generational line. There’s no new ground here, but the real horrors that people perpetuate against one another are always the most chilling.

I’m not sure if the denouement was meant to be a surprise, because it seemed obvious to me from the beginning, but that didn’t take away from the novella for me, because it’s about the journey rather than the destination.

However, the writing craft dampened my enjoyment of the novella. Connor was not believable to me as a twelve year old boy, mostly because his emotions seemed much too mature and modern for a child growing up in the nineties, and also because his thoughts and emotions were told rather than shown, sometimes through limited point of view and at other times through omniscient.

Likewise, with the very real life seriousness of the issues in this novella, I don’t think the writing did them justice. I think it was the author’s desire to treat these topics with respect, but Scratches didn’t capture the depth and emotional connection I wanted from such a tale.

I award Scratches

Scratches is available for $3.09 ebook and $7.99 print book on Amazon.

4 thoughts on “Scratches by Joshua Marsella”

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