Review: Things We Fear by Glenn Rolfe

Review: things-we-fear

I'm a bit torn on how to rate this one, as there were things I liked and disliked in almost equal measure.

Things We Fear follows a group of elementary teachers breaking for the summer, only one of these teachers, Matt, is a serial killer rapist. He's got his eyes on Ms. Emma Young, but when it becomes clear Emma is growing fond of Aaron...well now, what's a crazy, horny old slime bag to do?

Rolfe does a nice job showing us how creepy and f-ed in the head Matt is as he stalks Emma around town, and he also makes Aaron slightly interesting with his phobia of water, which he confronts annually by retreating to a beach-side resort.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the cast feels paper thin and mostly forgettable. The plot feels too stretched out and overpopulated with ancillary figures that Rolfe has to line up with a series of necessary conveniences in order for all of his characters to meet up at just the right moment in the story's finale. For instance, Heather, the hotel desk clerk, is built up to be more important than she really is and I never felt particularly engaged with her segments. She could have been removed entirely with little impact on the story. Also, the final throw-downs between Matt, Emma, and Aaron are more lackluster than they should have been.

I would have liked a bit more depth and tighter pacing to the novella, and I never really felt like Matt got his just-desserts in a satisfying enough way. Things We Fear, though, is pretty darn readable and engaging, even if Rolfe isn't firing on all cylinders. His writing was smooth enough to keep me hooked, and this short novella was a breezy enough read to pass the weekend without feeling like wasted time. Despite a few caveats, I'm rating this one 3-stars.

[Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from the publisher for review via NetGalley.]


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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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