Friday, October 14, 2016

31 Days of Halloween - Day 14

Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters

Dark House Press. 2016.

Alison, a young woman who has been horribly burned, and become a recluse from the world, collects old photo albums, projecting lives onto the strangers within them. One one of her rare ventures out of her house she comes into possession of a photo album in which she can only access the first page. The other pages are all stuck together, but over time, the album seems willing to reveal them to her one more page at a time revealing empty rooms in a house, a house, that's not only not empty, but one she can enter through the photographs, and which seem to be physically healing her. Alison is aware that the promise being offered to her by the haunted album is probably a trick at best, and a trap at worst, but struggles to find the courage to resist its invitation.

Walters' portrayal of Alison as someone both physically and psychologically devastated rings true and makes for a compelling empathetic character as she longs to be whole again. The world and characters within the haunted album are creepy and enticing. Walters bravely holds back on the story behind Alison's burns until far into the story, and I wish she hadn't decided to include it, because while initially wondering at her back story, I actually felt we knew all we needed to through dropped clues, without actually visiting the scene itself, though I understand the rationale for including it. This is less a criticism than an admiration at Walters' ability to provide just enough exposition at strategic points to provide a picture. Walters also takes the time to build the story making for a more natural pace and fulfilling involvement with Alison and her plight.

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