Possession horror is one of my favorite subgenres, so I was immediately intrigued when I first saw this novella show up on social media. Typically with this type of story, I’m expecting to read about demons, so I was surprised (in a good way) to discover that the author placed a different spin on this topic. I was looking for a quick and engaging read, and this novella did the trick.
As mentioned, I enjoyed the originality—specifically the fact that it went in a different direction than what I expected. What I initially thought might be going on with Natalie was not the case, and that made this read more interesting, as I couldn’t guess what was coming every step of the way. Another aspect that I enjoyed were the female protagonists. That felt new to me, as most of my favorite possession stories feature a male authority figure stepping in to save the day, and that was not the case with this tale. It was refreshing to see a female character take on the role of the one sent to rescue the child in distress. I also loved the atmosphere created in this story. As I watched it unfold in my mind, it felt very dark and reminiscent of other possession films and books that I enjoy. The author also did a nice job of building the intensity—I found my sense of dread snowballing as the story went on, and I steadily flipped the pages to find what was next.
Despite the refreshing mix of characters in this one, I struggled to fully connect, and didn’t feel as strongly for them as I have with others. I found myself wishing for a bit more backstory on the leading ladies. This novella begins by placing the reader in the midst of the drama, and while that provided intrigue that drew me in, I felt a bit like something was missing. I think it would’ve been more powerful had it been a bit longer and contained more character backstory—either at the beginning, or scattered throughout within flashbacks.
Hailey Piper has a lot of creativity and displayed some solid storytelling skills with this tale—it hooks the reader and keeps you engaged, has great atmospheric qualities, and a fresh take on the possession theme. I’m definitely interested in reading more from this author. I’d especially like to see what unique spin she could place on other common horror tropes, and would also be interested in a novel-length piece. I noticed that she just released another novella, so I’ll be adding that to my shelf soon, and stay on the lookout for more work in the future.