Book Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones


Genre: Horror

Format: Paperback novella

I’ve been reading a lot of the novellas released by Tor lately. They’re quick reads–they usually take me 2-3 hours to finish–and they count as an entire book towards my annual goal on Goodreads (you might call that cheating; I call it working the system). They’re also a great way to discover new voices I haven’t read before, or find more work from authors I really like.

The latest of these I picked up is Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones. It’s far and away the best of the novellas I’ve read so far. Most of that comes down to personal preference, of course. For me, the deeply personal story Jones tells here is just the sort of horror I find most effective.

The story is about a Native American boy who, at twelve years old, starts seeing his father’s ghost in the trailer where he lives with his mother and brother. At first, the ghost seems to be protecting the family, but gradually it becomes apparent there’s more going on here. I don’t want to say too much because the revelations are so crucial to the story. Jones masterfully sets up elements that are all woven together and brought to a conclusion that is both shocking and satisfying. And there’s a scene under the trailer, where the boy runs when pursued by blood-thirsty dogs, that actually gave me goosebumps. And what kid hasn’t thought they were encountering something supernatural and couldn’t tell the adults because they knew nobody would listen? If you like Stephen King’s IT or similar stories about teenagers taking on supernatural horror, you’ll probably enjoy Mapping the Interior.

I look forward to reading more of these Tor horror novellas and also more from Stephen Graham Jones, so look for reviews of both right here in the coming months.

Overall: 5/5 ghost beads

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