Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2017 short list
- Author: J.S. Breukelaar
- Title: Aletheia (67 chapters…the books just keep getting longer!)
- Published: 2017
- Trivia: Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2017 short list
- Well, I’m still looking for horror!
- I read the winner of the
- Aurealis Award Best Horror Novel 2017
- Soon and was mildly impressed.
- Now I have decided to look further….on the short list.
- I found Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar
- The name has potential….but is it horrific?
- I have never heard of the author but according to
- …some comment I saw this book is
- “a demanding story that will grip the reader and
- …hold them relentlessly until the end.“
- Does the book drip strangeness?
- I will put the book to the test!
Feedback: response to comment by Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery
Tracy, I was just like you…Horror, avoid at all costs.
Now I have found that horror is not only slasher narratives with blood dripping from chainsaws!
It is creating with language and imagery an unsettling tense feeling as to what is yet to come.
There are different sorts of horror gothic –Dracula- and Supernatural –Aletheia- non-supernatural. This category includes frightening crime or mystery stories. I read Lemaitre’s –Alex- ..and was frightened to death by rats attacking a victim! Tracy, perhaps you are reading horror and didn’t realize it!
- Aletheia is the Greek goddess of truth… Roman name Veritas.
- In this book Aletheia refers not so much to the truth.
- …but how you find it.”
Genre: supernatural horror
- Breukelaar uses phrases that create a creepy unsettling air.
- Strong point being the imagery and personification of the lake.
- The one of the best ‘horror’ chapters was ch 16 Dark Wind.
- Lee faces the supernatural unknown he feels on the lake.
- “What do you want? And the lake doesn’t answer,
- …but somethig else does.”
- Find the blind spot…what they refuse to see is what they are afraid of.
- What do the men refuse to see? (Lee – Doc – Frankie)
- What must the women do?
- Thettie must find room to ‘move in their blind spot’
- Bryce: blinded in one eye…yet she saw everyone’s fears.
- Motif – tongue (reptilian, poisonous, death)
- – Vernon’s tongue-tip flicked out (ch1)
- – a black tongue of lake water (ch 5)
- – …licked the glass of the dream-window
- – the black dream tongue fading…(ch 9)
- – a tongue dragged itself along the steamy
- – inside of the window… (10)
- – black tongues of lake….lap hungrily at the side of the canoe (ch 16)
- This is a great horror effect!
- Motif – triangle (fate)
- I found one quote that perhaps is the idea behind the form:
- “…a triangulation that finally began to make sense.
- Geometry is fate.” (ch 13)
- Place names:
- Triangle Gully, Triangle Bridge, Triangle Creek Triangle Falls
- business triangles: Homer with a rifle – a dirt-colored shack – pails for the dogs
- love triangles – Archy – Bryce – Grif
- guilt triangles – Frankie – Thettie – Doc
- child/mother triangles – Archy – Thettie – Grif
- This brings tension….someone will be left out
- …but who?
- Motif – eye (evil eye?)
- Many references to eye – fish hook
- Bryce catches ‘baby’ – doll on fishing line —-fish hook in eye.
- Lee’s son draws a howling mutation (in lake?) and his
- mother crayon in a burning star in its dead eye.
- Bryce: one-eye water rat
- Lee began to move off, but the
- …amber slice in her (Bryce) eye held him in place.
- Bryce: wore an eye patch that “seemed to eat up the all the light”
- There are many more references
- …..try to find them!
HOOK: What hooked me?
- I cannot pinpoint one specific moment in the first
- few chapters that I can say ‘hooked’ me.
- Of course the ‘shock and awe’ of the first sentence
- ….but there must be more.
- I wasn’t interested in reading the book in the first place
- ….but wanted to investigate the shortlist
- …Aurealis Prize Best Horror Novel 2017.
- The fact that I kept reading
- ….because of the quality of the writing is the hook.
- If you can keep ME interested in a horror book
- …then you must be doing something right
- ….#Bravo J.M. Breuklaar
- J.S. Breukelaar is a master of foreshadowing.
- She made her plot clues subtle and for this reader
- ….apparent during a re-reading!
- The author wants to build suspense.
- I tried to read very carefully and the book is intricately plotted.
- I had to read 10 chapters…then re-read/skim them
- to pick up on what I had missed the first time around.
- Once I had a grasp of the basic conflicts
- ….reading was much smoother…and creepier!
- Breukelaar personifies the lake
- ..whenever she can giving it a horror-touch:
- …the lake jumped at her between the houses.
- …a black tongue of the lake licked her heel.
- …the lake winked between the trees.
- …crouched waiting for the unrisen sun.
- …shrank from a rascally moon.
- …(weed) the lake sucked it in.
- Lee: obsessed with the lake after his son was
- …killed and parts of body thrown in lake (horror)
- “Death is not the end, neither for the dead
- nor those they leave behind.” (ch14)
- Thettie: obsessed with guilt from the past
- “I got to make things right….” (ch 13)
- Bryce: ….she is not what she seems!
- Breukelaar used a chewy setting
- …something she could set her teeth into!
- Breukelaar uses personification
- the lake jumped, winked,
- …licked at her heels.
- She used all the features of the lake
- the lake oozed and spread, cold, dark and indestructible
- ….black tongue of lake water licked her heel
- to increase the creepy unsettling feelings in the story.
- What is the hungry nameless thing in the lake?
- I was fascinated by a lake…..that came to life!
- Breukelaar created a very wierd
- …creepy world in the Pennsylvania back country.
- “The lake flushed purple, bruised by its own loveliness
- ….leaves dripped bloody from the trees.
- Lee looks through shards of glass…
- …like seeing the world through alien tears (ch 6)
- Breukelaar shows ….does not tell.
- She uses the sense of smell (80x) to prickle the reader’s imagination.
- …the metallic smell of the lake, smell of burnt wiring, burned waffels,
- her breath smells like cocoa and some kind of vegetable,
- the smell of iodine-soaked bandage.
Tension: …every page tingles with tension!
- I was mesmerized by the character’s
- …thoughts of obsessions and death wishes.
- For example:
- This is Lee’s obsession….to probe the lake until he finds his son.
- Lee’s death wish “…the only way to beat the monster
- …is to join it.” (ch 16)
- Throughout the book I kept wondering
- …will good triumph over evil…or NOT!
Conclusion: Mainstream fiction or horror fiction?
- I was surprised to find in J.S. Breukelaar’s horror novel
- superior writing and great emotional depth (example ch 11).
- My preconceptions that horror is
- …less than mainstream fiction are gone forever!
- The horror writer wants us to expand our imagination with images.
- Best image… was the island in the middle of the lake.
- I had to admire how creative Breukelaar is!
- “Island was a bugger sneezed out in nostril shape
- …with nose-hair foliage.” (ch 2)
- With all due respect to people who know how to judge literature…
- I would like to see the jury report of
- …Aurealis Awards Best Horror Novel 2017.
- I read the winner Soon by Lois Murphy and Aletheia short listed.
- As a reader J.S. Breukelaar’s novel should have won!
- #MustRead….really a must!
What is the most important difference between Soon and Aletheia ?
- While reading Aletheia…
- I was constantly asking myself questions.…
- …which plot twist do I think is coming next?
- While reading Soon
- ….my imagination was not aroused
- ….nothing in the book
- spurred me on to think with the author.
- This is what I mean when I say that Soon did not engage me
- …but Aletheia did!
- Wonderful reading experience….that you should not miss!
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