"Coleridge" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing


Written by Tom Deady
2020, 96 pages, Fiction
Released on 24th March, 2020


Coleridge kicks off with 33-year-old Dalia opening her shop, preparing for a busy Saturday at work, but also ruminating about a recent painful event involving her partner Zadie; “It was the day itself, seven months tomorrow.” Much of this novella builds up to the events of this pivotal day, which is revealed relatively slowly and has obviously had a major impact upon Dalia. Her first order of business does not go as planned; she is accosted by a rather curt old man who demands to know where Zadie Cromwell is. He claims to be her father and is far from pleasant in his demands. Not surprisingly, Dalia is instantly suspicious, as his story does not add up, and certainly does not match what she already knows about her partner’s family.

Introducing himself as Miles Slade, the snarky elderly gentleman clearly has a strange interest in the house the two women co-own, the ‘Coleridge’ of the title, demanding to know details of the purchase and how their time in the house has been. Dalia eventually manages to get rid of Slade, but he later telephones and invites himself around to Coleridge house that evening, where things take a decidedly darker turn.

Coleridge is not a long book, even so, it failed to genuinely grab my attention and I found proceedings pedestrian with little to raise the story beyond average. We are living and enjoying a literary period where there are some exceptional novellas, including a few published by Silver Shamrock Publishing, but this falls short of the high standard on the market. Reviewing middling books can often be difficult and although there is nothing especially bad about it, I’m also struggling to find genuine positives to focus upon. However, this may well be one of these stories which others might get more out of than myself.

There are relatively few characters; most of the action concerns the backwards and forwards between Dalia and Slade as he quickly shows his true colours. Surprise, surprise, he is neither a nice guy or Zadie’s father and the episodes where Dalia turns the table on him are some of the better in the story. Some of the flashbacks centre upon the relationship between the two women – how they met and ended up buying the house together – but it is not particularly interesting and struck me as rather superficial. On a few occasions the story moves into diary mode and we are introduced to Zadie’s character, realising she is troubled for reasons which are connected to the house. As the story is only 96 pages long, perhaps more time was required to develop some of these relationships into a larger, more substantial, work.

Coleridge does not particularly sell itself as a ghost or haunted house tale but lacks any kind of scares or fear factor. Also, considering the house is the centre piece of the action, it is described rather blandly, which does nothing to add tension. Yes, it is obvious Dalia loves the building and has put her life into restoring it, but from the reader’s point of view this is dull stuff. This storyline picks up slightly when it becomes obvious that Slade knows more about the origins of the house than the owners and throws some much-needed hints to the reader.

There is an Aleister Crowley-style character referred to in the plot who is rather intriguing, but sadly he lurks far in the backstory. It is a shame he remained unexplored, as he sounds rather more interesting than the few which dominate the plot. Ultimately the story is built around Dalia and this woman failed to grab my attention and I was never truly invested in her personal pain. This novella is an easy enough read and is diverting for a couple of hours but lacks the edge to make it stand out from the pack or give a more heartily recommendation.


Overall: 3 Star Rating Cover
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Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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