Dunballan is a place that has its share of dark secrets, along with a beast that stalks the woods around it. There is a long history associated with this small town and David McCavendish’s family is part of it. David has been living in London and now has to return to the place of his ancestors in order to inherit the family home. He now has to adjust to country living and in order to help him, he brought along his girlfriend Sally.
Sally quickly realizes that something is a little off about Dunballan. The only person who seems to talk to her gives her a history of the town that includes some stories of odd spirits that lurk in the woods, one being Hettie Of The Hedgegrow. Another problem is that every time the beast in the woods appears, David goes into a depressed catatonic state that lasts for days. Sally realizes that the town is cursed and will do anything to keep David from suffering through it. The problem is she may not be able to help him without making everything worse.
Quiet Places by Jasper Bark is not your average horror novella. It feels like Jasper Bark was thinking to himself: “What are the things that scare people the most?” As he was pondering that question he sat down and wrote a terrifying piece of work that relies on mood and emotions rather than gore or a hideous monster. The beast in this story isn’t all that scary, but what it represents is and the history surrounding it is even worse. I felt the scariest part of this book was in the very beginning which I don’t want to give away but Jasper pretty much nailed my worst fear and he wasn’t even that descriptive. It was all psychological, Jasper makes you imagine it instead of showing it.
After the gut wrenching start, you as the reader are left to wonder how we got there and then you get the history leading up to the event. This book gets into mythology, the occult and a history of David’s relatives. I loved all the attention to detail in this book but most of all I loved the character of Sally. We see Sally deal with a lot of different issues in this story but she stays strong even when things are at their worst. Sally seems like she doesn’t fit in anywhere and she isn’t sure she even cares about fitting in. She does know who’s important to her though and will do anything to save him.
Quiet Places is heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and could be considered cosmic horror but it’s a highly original novella. This is a psychological horror story that gives you a lot to think about. Some of the questions it raises are who do you trust in a town of strangers? How far would you go to save a loved one? And What would you do when all hope is lost? Quiet Places shows us that a story doesn’t have to be bloody to be scary and there are far scarier things than death.