Books & Literature

Book Review: Hometown Haunts, edited by Poppy Nwosu

YA HORROR: This #LoveOzYA anthology – the first to focus entirely on horror – unites a stellar cast of Australia’s finest YA authors with talented new and emerging voices, including two graphic artists.

A collection of horror stories written by some of Australia’s best young adult authors.

Poppy Nwosu, author of Making Friends with Alice Dyson, Taking Down Evelyn Tait and Road Tripping with Pearl Nash, has gathered together a group of Australian young adult authors and asked them to each write a short horror story for a new anthology: Hometown Haunts.

Some of them are well known from their previous novels, like Vikki Wakefield, Sarah Epstein, and Alison Evans but some are new and emerging voices. The book also includes stories from two graphic artists.

The brief to each writer was to write something that would horrify the reader. Whether it be ghosts, inner fears, or even the future.

Each story is very different and there is something for everyone. Some of the stories are definitely horrifying, while others just make you think. Many of them end with a cliff hanger, leaving you looking around your room, wondering …

Of the 14 authors, not all have filled the brief. Their contribution was a bit confusing but another reader may appreciate the style. 

The first story The Party by Wai Chim is very unsettling. A boy goes searching for his older brother at a party one night when he is late coming home. Seek and Destroy by Jared Thomas is just plain scary!

 Luckily, the two graphic stories included are explained by their authors. Both are a little difficult to comprehend without this explanation, especially the one by Emma Preston.

Stop Revive and Survive by Sarah Epstein is every parent’s nightmare, with an interesting twist at the end. Hunger by Marianna Shek takes a very dark turn and is very disturbing.

Other stories may need the reader to sit with it for a while as the realisation of what has happened may come more slowly, and example being Heart-shaped Stone by Vikki Wakefield.

Slaughterhouse Boys by Emma Osbourne introduces us to the pain of a boy who has to pretend he is something he is not in order to please his family.

In all, while the reader may not enjoy every story, there is something for everyone. And if you are looking to be scared, you will definitely find something here to give you cause for nightmares.

In the End Notes, each author has a short bio and then gives us the inspiration behind their story: an interesting read once you have read their stories.

Poppy Nwosu says in the foreword that she hopes this book will leave you feeling unsettled, and give you the opportunity to ponder for yourself—what is it you fear? Hometown Haunts certainly does that.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: October 2021
RRP: $24.95

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