Bellmere Common

Bellmere Common - Mark Steen The plot is familiar. A big spooky house in a small town with history, left to an unsuspecting relative, who didn’t know he had a relative, suspicious local town-folk, and scandalous gossip. All the ingredients one needs for the perfect scare yourself to death horror story. It takes a great storyteller to make those ingredients into something original. Mark Steen would be that kind of storyteller.

Bellmere Common follows Patrick, his wife Julie and their kids as they come into Bellmere to inspect their unexpected inheritance of his aunt’s home. Upon arriving in town they find his aunt had been a recluse after she was forced to kill her husband, who had been an extremely violent man and it turns out that the locals may know a bit more than they are letting on.

Not long after they arrive strange things begin happening. Their daughter develops an imaginary friend that her parents find just a little too realistic. Local teens find their game of ouija to be just a little too intense and a pair of ruffians end up dead by the hand of man that witnesses swear is already dead himself.

The story is told in two sections, both the modern day setting dealing with the protagonists of the story and a flashback set in 1950 providing a well fleshed out back story, that still leaves the reader guessing all the way to the end. The characters are striking. I particularly enjoyed the character of Seth. If you had asked me at the beginning, I wouldn’t have believed that he would have been as capable as he was. All the characters were well developed as the story progressed proving initial impressions to be lacking. It was quite an enjoyable read, much to my family’s dismay as their attempts to engage me in conversation, while my nose was buried in my Kindle (that just doesn’t sound as cool as buried in a book, does it?), were met with some serious annoyance.

About the only sore spot for me was the sex scenes (The warning label for graphic sex doesn't usually prove a deterrent for me). Though appropriate and great seasoning for the exposition of the story, the explicit language and descriptions felt out of place. I feel certain that the author is more than capable of keeping the intensity of those portions that drove the story so well without the common language that made those scenes feel more contrived than exposition. While this book could and should appeal to a wide audience, it could and should appeal to much wider audience in my opinion.