“Ex Libris: The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Sleep Paralysis by Patrick Lacey, 241 pages published by Great Old Ones Publishing, 2016.
“His father sits at the kitchen table drinking black coffee and reading the newspaper. Eddie doesn’t think his dad owns more than two suits and if he does, they’re all the same charcoal shade of black. Even the ties all seem the same, so much so that for a moment he’s back in his junior year and his father’s heading to a normal day of work and Eddie’s heading to a normal day of school and nothing has changed yet.
But the moment passes and he’s back in the present, crunching the sandpaper toast and watching the pink skyline turn orange through the kitchen window.”
Sleep Paralysis: A transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, accompanied by powerful hallucinations and muscle weakness, preventing one from moving. A website that specializes in suffering. A basement filled with secrets and bones. An apartment housing more than just ghosts. These are the stories that stay with you long after you’ve read them. These are the things that visit your dreams. And nightmares …
“’Ms. Clark, there really are things beneath the surface.’ I turned around, unable to speak.
‘I’m referring to your paper, the one about advertising. I don’t think I ever got a chance to tell you how terrific it was. And that you were right. There are a lot of things that we don’t pay attention to, and it’s not only subliminal messaging. There are things that we choose to ignore, but when we become in tune with them… well, let’s just say we can lose ourselves in the process.’”
Late last year, in one of those author promoting author moments, I was given the opportunity to read a novella from Patrick Lacey. That novella, A Debt To Be Paid, was my first experience with Lacey’s brand of dark fiction. I dug it quite a bit. It was eerie, brooding, all-in-all a lot of fun. So when the opportunity came about to get my hands on Sleep Paralysis, Lacey’s short story collection, I dove right in, with a fair amount of excitement might I add.
I try to go into reads as a clean slate, with as little hype as possible, so as not to place insurmountable hurdles before a book. It can be sabotage for a reader to start a read with expectations, and unfair for a writer. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’ve always said that I am not a critic, I am a fan. Reading dark fiction isn’t a job, it’s a pleasure. So it’s a nice moment when your enthusiasm as a reader gets returned back to you in the form of solid, enthusiastic, pleasurable reads.
A Debt To Be Paid, while quite enjoyable and a great dark-and-stormy-night read, didn’t really knock my socks off. The same sentiment can’t be said for Sleep Paralysis. I still can’t find my socks. The line-up for SP consists of eighteen short stories, every one of them top-shelf horror, with perhaps ten that either kicked me straight in the feels or caused an outburst of excitement from my inner genre super fan.
I dig Patrick’s style, a lot. Energetic and easily accessible, not simple by any means, but seductive. The tales flow smoothly. You don’t realize how connected you are to a story until the pay-off knocks you on your ass, even when you suspect where it might be going, and it still hits hard. That’s impressive and exciting. The urge to stop reading and drop a line to the author telling them how much you enjoyed a piece doesn’t happen often, it happened here. Every story in Sleep Paralysis is a delight.
My favorite stories of the collection are (in order of appearance):
- Drowning In Filth
- Lost And Found
- First Bell (overall favorite)
- Send Your End
- The Lynnwood Vampires
- Cold Call
- Last Words
- Full Disclosure
The list could really go on and on.
Sleep Paralysis is definitely a recommended read and a strong contender for a year-end favorites list. Suffice to say that I am fully on board and looking forward to Mr. Lacey’s next offering.
“I think that everyone is really two different people. There’s the person you are to the world, and there’s the person you are to yourself. In my experience, they’re quite…incompatible.”
Overall score: An enthusiastic 5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher/ publicist on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.
Patrick Lacey is a graduate of Salem State University and an Editorial Assistant in the healthcare industry. When he’s not reading about blood clots and infectious diseases, he writes about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his fiancée, his Pomeranian, and his muse, who he’s pretty sure is trying to kill him.