"The Passengers You Cannot See" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by Pricks Like Thorn Media
Written by The Behrg
2020, 209 pages, Fiction
Released on February 19th, 2020
When I first started The Passengers You Cannot See, I found myself very confused. My confusion had nothing to do with the writing, just the fact that I overlooked that this is a collection, not a novel. After reading half of the book and wondering what the heck was going on, my brain kick-started and once again I am reminded why The Behrg is one of my favorite horror writers.
The author has this amazing way of setting up a scene and fleshing out a character. It shows even more in his short stories where the reader only has a few pages to live out these tales. This anthology has tales of heartbreak, thrilling action, and even a love story hiding in these macabre offerings.
“Drive” is the opening act of this anthology. It is about an unnamed woman driving through the night, haunted by the ghosts of her past as she seeks absolution and eternal life. As brief as this story is, the author fleshes her out so perfectly that I genuinely ached for this character as I read about her traumatic life. This is a well done tale that sets the general tone for the book.
Another favorite is “Every House is Haunted”. We follow our protagonist Cindy who is desperate to escape her home and her so called friends who dwell there. What starts out as typical haunted house tale quickly evolves into creative and very original twist ending. As much as I want to discuss this story I just don’t want to spoil it, it’s just too good to take the surprise away from future readers.
I really loved our next featured story , “Kill Your Darlings”. It is an absolutely fun romp through the world of Carl Renkins, an aspiring horror author who decides to truly embrace the sage old advice of “write what you know”. The main character, despite his darkness, is absolutely loveable and entertaining. I would love to one day read more about him and his adventures.
“Scabs” is the love story that I referred to at the beginning of this review. We meet Shay and her unnamed husband who are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where sleep is the ultimate enemy. This tale is darkly beautiful, heartbreaking and not for the easily squeamish.
And speaking of the easily squeamish, there’s the dark and action-packed” Reborn”, which is about a priest who finds himself in battle with a demon. It’s violent but also exciting and engaging; there’s another perfect twist ending to the story that again I can’t delve too deeply into out of fear of ruining it.
“Stillborn” just about broke my heart, which is interesting because I’m pretty sure I don’t have one. This dive into despair features Samantha and Joel, who have suffered the heartbreak of giving birth to a stillborn daughter. A mysterious baby monitor begins to torture the couple with sounds of their daughter’s cries, which begins to unravel their already broken lives. The ending is phenomenal and a perfect coda to the tale.
Last and certainly not least is a story that I had the pleasure of reading on its own before it made it into The Passengers You Cannot See. “Happiness is a Commodity” takes the reader to a bleak world where joy is used as currency and is treated like a drug. There is great social commentary about the worlds of the haves and have-nots and the lengths that people will go to achieve it. It’s an amazing tale that needs to be read by any horror fan.
I could rave about this book all day but that would be redundant. There’s not a single entry that I don’t absolutely love and it was hard to pick from these gems which ones to feature in this review; there are still more stories that I didn’t discuss that are worth the read. The Passengers You Cannot See is a definitely one of my favorites of this year so far and I highly recommend it.
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