Out of This World SFF Reviews is delighted to be just one of the many blogs participating in the Storytellers On Tour Book Tour featuring author Duncan Wilson and his paranormal/horror book, ONCE UPON A LANE! Today is Day 3 of the tour and I am stoked to be part of it with all of the other amazing bloggers. I will soon be giving you all a synopsis of the novel as well as my official review, plus some additional links to connect with Duncan and his books.
First up, here is a description of ONCE UPON A LANE, followed by my review:
"There once was a lane, filled with well-tended lawns and well-fostered friendships, of well-appointed houses all neat and tidy and those that live within, of stories and mysteries that manifest for only fleeting moments for the few who pay attention. This is one such tale. A tale about pleasant people, about the lives they live, about their wants and dreams, about their loves and losses, their joys and hates, about their days and nights in the company of cherished companions in the houses they call home. In this tae of the happy little lives of blissful simple folk, there are monsters, to be sure. But this is not the story of monsters, this is not the tale of their evil deeds, this is the tale of those they make suffer. In this tale, the monsters have no names. The monsters do not deserve names."
A character driven slice-of-life story that follows the humble lives of the residents of a suburban neighborhood as they live and love, and about the house with the dead yard, a vacant lot, that sits among their homes, inert and immobile, yet intimidating and terrifying to any who look at it too long. The children of the lane are not the only ones who are fearful of the anomaly in their midst. Every adult upon the lane wonders why the structure still stands, with no known owner and no reason to be. The lingering question is not who owns the house, but why no one ever goes in or comes out, and why there are such ghastly noises emanating from within. Day by day, the happy people of the lane go about their tasks and trials, and day by day, the house with the dead yard seems a little more ominous, a little more intrusive, and a little less ignorable than before.
This was an interesting story to the say the least and somewhat different from my usual steady diet of fantasy and sci-fi. The main character in this book is the mysterious and creepy house while all of the residents in the neighborhood are the secondary characters who play off it. It works really well for the most part as the growing unease caused by the ominous house in the lane gradually builds from chapter to chapter.
I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite movies, The 'Burbs, when I read ONCE UPON A LANE. There are so many parallels with regard to the suburban setting, quirky and crazy neighbors, and the menacing house with strange noises emanating from within...
Obviously in the movie we do finally get to meet the residents of that house, but with this book, the questions linger a lot longer. It also had a little hint of The Elementals by Michael McDowell to it. So if you like either of those, you should read this book.
Each character is affected by the house in a certain way and it is cool to see how they view what the house represents and speculate on its origins. I liked the way Duncan Wilson used tension to make the story much more of a suspenseful read. This is a difficult book to classify as it definitely has some paranormal elements, weird fiction, as well as a splash of horror. The thing about it is that the horror is more of a sense of something being off rather than the in your face splatter variety.
I would have liked to have gotten to know the residents of the lane a little more as I felt like some of them were kind of skimmed over quickly. With so many being introduced, it was tough to differentiate who was who at times. But that was the only real qualm I had and for the most part I really enjoyed the story.
All in all this was a very intriguing read that crossed many different sub-genres. It is a slice of life story where some of the monsters aren't always ones of a supernatural form. I was definitely surprised when I got the the end because everything wasn't necessarily wrapped up in a tidy bow, and I like that in endings. This was a very quick and fun read that I recommend for those looking for something a little different and creepy. You will definitely feel a sense of unease as you turn the pages in this interesting take on the gothic horror tale. I look forward to reading more books by Duncan Wilson in the future because I was really entertained by this one!
You can purchase ONCE UPON A LANE on Amazon by clicking HERE.
About the author
Duncan Wilson has been writing since childhood, having fallen in love with the written word at a very early age. Having spent his formative years in various libraries, he can bore his friends on a variety of subjects. Inspired by the natural world and the splendors of the heavens, he writes primarily science fiction and paranormal stories. He has a novel and two novellas published on Amazon and Smashwords, and an additional novella and several short stories published on Patreon. You can connect with Duncan online via his Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Patreon, and Goodreads.
And that concludes my stop on the ONCE UPON A LANE book tour! Hope you enjoyed it. I would like to extend a special thank you to Storytellers On Tour and author Duncan Wilson for the opportunity to participate. There are many more awesome stops on this tour, so if you would like to check those out, below is the official schedule.