Henry has received a message: he needs to sacrifice five people to the demon that’s been talking to him in his nightmares. He already has four, and number five, Claire, is currently bound in the back of his van.
Too bad Claire isn’t exactly human.
The Maria Abrams novella, She Who Rules the Dead, starts with a semi-conscious, drugged woman, Claire, in a van being driven by a serial killer, Henry. Henry already has four dead bodies in the back of the van and killing Claire fulfills a dream he had. If this is not enough to give this novella a try, are you even a reader? The next 100 or so pages move at a breakneck speed, and prepare yourself to sit down and read this entire book in one sitting.
I love the story because it does go in unexpected directions. There is not so much twist and turns as much as unpredicted directions. There is as much story and plot in this novella as there are in some 400 and 500 tomles, but this story fits perfectly to the pace. We feel the adrenaline and the anxiety from both Claire, the and Henry as the final solution comes. Without a wasted page, Abrams brings this tension to the reader. When there is only 20 pages left, then 15, then 10, and we know as the reader the countdown is happening even if we do not know what the final direction is going to be. This could be much longer, but this length gives the story the anxiety that it needs.
I love the story, but I also love the writing. There is a simplicity to it that makes it read fast and clearly, even when there are some concepts that are a little trickier than others. I did not have any problem following the action, what Henry and Claire are really up to, and what the ramifications are for their actions. Abrams uses strong sentences and word choices that really makes this story sing.
Like everyone published by Weirdpunk Books, She Who Rules the Dead has a quality that I have come to expect from this publisher, and I cannot recommend reading their entire catalog enough. For anyone who is hesitant on where to start, She Who Rules the Dead is a great place to start your obsession.