Review: Apparition by Michaelbrent Collings

on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

There is nothing I personally fear more than losing myself. Losing control of my emotions and making a mistake, failing to maintain dominance over my most basic of functions and becoming manipulated by some other, sinister force. I believe this is why the concept of possession is so chilling to many people: you lose what makes you YOU, so you still have to witness the awful consequences of your actions.

Apparition by Michaelbrent Collings is about parents killing their children. I'm not going to mince words here, this book deals with filicide. If that sort of thing bothers you even in the very slightest, you should probably avoid this book, because it will get in your head and royally mess you up. However, if you are the kind of person who loves books that get into your head and royally mess you up, then I really have a novel suggestion for you!

To put it into context: this book starts with a graphic description of filicide. Not so much that I'd consider it distasteful, but absolutely horrific enough to make me squirm uncomfortably. Which, considering I got this book to be scared, I'll write that down as a bullet point for the positive.

The story follows Shane and his two children, who are seeking answers in regards to why parents suddenly snap and murder their children. All the while dark things being creeping into their lives, influencing Shane and putting some rather awful thoughts into his head. Without spoiling much, I'll just say that as Shane gets closer and closer to finding the truth, he falls deeper and deeper into the abyss of madness.

Michaelbrent Collings is a master of building suspense, providing lulls that are still unnerving and then hitting you with big scares. I felt he did this near-perfectly in Rising Fears, while The Haunting had sections that felt a little long for me. In Apparition his pacing is at its finest: starting with a horrific, jolting scene to set the mood, and balancing the brief breathers with the heart-stopping horror. I literally read until three in the morning until I was so tired I passed out with Kindle in hand, and when I returned to the book I didn't stop until I had completely finished it.

While I'd argue this is my favorite of Michaelbrent's books I've read so far, I had two issues with it. The first is I never really had a grasp on Matthew's age, which kept throwing me off. He seemed particularly young considering how he talked (and was talked to) at the beginning, but then he'd observe things in his viewpoint that seemed way too old for his thought processes. A minor nitpick (especially since the teenage daughter was done so well), but enough to throw me off.

The other is the issue that horror masters have been battling since the genre began: that not seeing a monster is far more scary than when you actually reveal it. While I think Apparition did very well by concealing the true identity of the monster until the very end, once the reveal happened it was, as one expects, far less scary than anything I was speculating. A few of the final scenes even came off as a bit corny. This didn't detract from the absolutely bananas climax that Apparition has (not to mention the fantastic, fantastic epilogue that capstones this horror novel perfectly) but I often wonder if a horror book would work where we never actually see the big bad and only witness it's influence and awful aftermath. But that's not a question for this review.

Long story short, Apparition provides exactly as advertised: raw, unflinching horror speckled with gore and a healthy dose of "that's just wrong!" If you have any affinity for the horror genre whatsoever, I high suggest picking up this and all the rest of Michaelbrent Collings' works. Just be warned: this book was the first book I've ever read to give me nightmares, so maybe you should read it with all the lights on.

Four out of five stars. 


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