When people ask me "What makes for a horror story?" I often reply that horror is like a tree, whose roots and branches provide a safe home to many different creatures. It can be home to the extreme pulp horror of say James Herbert or it can be home to the a quieter and more subtle version of horror, such as that found in this excellent novella from James Everington.
Trying to be So Quiet sits proudly on the quiet horror branch, it is a subtle ghost story that invokes a deep sense of dread by means of an evocative writing style and clever imagery, and a wonderful sense of pacing....
The day they buried her was the first day Lizzie’s death seemed real…
Trying To Be So Quiet is an emotionally charged ghost story that deals with ghosts of both the supernatural and emotional variety. The first person narrative of the unnamed protagonist as he deals with the emotional fallout out of the death of his partner Laura is a poignant and heartbreaking read. Everington's sympathetic handling of feelings of grief and guilt over losing a loved one showing a writer who fully ndertands the subject matter.
Where this story excels is in the way in which Everington cleverly and insidiously layers on the feeling of dread and fear onto the emotionally charged main theme of grief and loss. There is a wonderful light-handiness to the scares, from the terrifying depiction of the development of the apparition. (I've never liked looking into mirrors and after reading this I don't think I will ever look into another mirror again) to way way in which he uses the home that the Laura and the narrator designed and built. Is the ghost haunting the protagonist or is it haunting the house. I also loved how the Everington used the cracks in the house as a metaphor for the cracks in the psyche of the narrator.
Trying To Be So Quiet is a deeply moving story, emotionally charged,with a powerful and rich narrative, it is an exemplary example of ability for quiet horror to chill a reader to the core. Everington has always been one of those writers to watch out for, a gifted writer with a keen eye for refined horror, Trying To Be So Quiet doesn't so much as cement his place as a great writer, as but catapults him into the ranks of exceptional writers.