Ginger Nuts of Horror
“We buried Dad in the winter. It wasn’t until the spring that we heard from him again.”
That’s one of the best opening lines to a story I’ve read in awhile and happens to be the opening line to Andrew Cull’s novella, Knock and You Will See Me.
This novella tells the story of a single mother, Ellie, whose father recently died. The two of them were very close, and as a young girl she nearly drowned but was resuscitated by her father, so she naturally is distraught over the loss. But having three boys to care for, she presses on. At the burial, Ellie is sure she hears a noise like a thud and voices coming from the casket. As the days go by, she finds strange notes like WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? — presumably written by her dead father — being left around the house suggesting that dad might not be dead after all — at least as far as Ellie’s concerned.
Because of her near-death experience as a child, she’s gained a sixth sense; the ability to see what others cannot see. This ESP is important to the story because Cull does a masterful job of leaving it up to the reader to wonder if the events happening to Ellie are real, in her mind, or maybe a combination of both. That mystery and the tension Cull creates as he leads you down this rabbit hole of a distraught person losing her grip make this a thrilling read.
The story moves along well thanks to Cull’s pacing, but it doesn’t feel rushed and gives you enough time to ponder the state of Ellie’s mind as it builds up to the finale, which seems to be controversial among some reviewers.
Without going into spoilers, I felt the ending betrayed the rest of the story if it happened in the physical world and wasn’t something that Ellie’s mind concocted as it finally reached its breaking point. It’s certainly not where I thought the story was headed. It makes it tough to pigeonhole this into being a ghost story, a monster story, or a psychological thriller, which could be Cull’s intention.
Cull’s imagery and his prose do all the heavy lifting here, and he’s a master of his craft. Images of maggots, decay, and a literal stench of death wafting through the house are peppered throughout the story. His descriptions are vivid and paint the grim picture of dread, fear, and suffering this family undergoes.
While you’ll likely have some lingering questions after the first read, I suspect that there’s more within the pages than meets the eye. If you put on your thinking cap and do a little digging, you may find that Cull has planted some nuggets in the story that will give you answers, but don’t let that stop you from picking up what is otherwise a well-written, fast-paced spooky tale.