Getting right down to it, as a reader I look for one thing when picking up a new author, and that's potential. I don't ever expect a first time author to blow me away, but I definitely want to see some potential for something bigger, better and bolder to come from the author in the relatively near future. That potential may be their way with words, or their ability to breathe some life into their character. Or it may be within the ideas on display.
So here's the good news: Patrick Lacey oozes potential.
His first novella from Samhain Publishing, A Debt to be Paid sets up an intriguing premise - that of a young woman being visited by the same dark shapes which plagued her mother into an asylum twenty years previously - and then gradually ratchets up the threat. Said daughter realises she must visit her mother to obtain answers to the burgeoning threat, and when the two women come together things quickly escalate from bad to worse ...
And then it just kind of ... ends. In a completely unsatisfying manner.
In other words, Lacey shows considerable potential. His writing is solid without being overly flashy or noteworthy, most of his characters behave like realistic people (which was refreshing), and the antagonistic threat builds nicely. But his ending felt rushed and not at all consistent with what came before. I won't go into details here, of course, but the ending dropped this a full star rating for me. Maybe I missed something? It's possible. But A Debt to be Paid is not an overly taxing read, nor one with particularly complex concepts.
So as disappointing as the final five or so pages were, Lacey demonstrates more than enough potential for me to have him on my watchlist of authors, and I look forward to seeing what his next foray into the longer forms of horror writing yields.
3 Dark Figures Gently Rapping, Rapping at My Chamber Door for A Debt to be Paid.
The preceding was based on an electronic copy of the book provided in exchange for an honest review, which you have now read.