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Bryan Smith is one of a very small handful of horror authors who I will drop everything for whenever they have a new release, and bump them straight to the top of my ‘to be read’ pile. With well over 40 books published to date, you know that anything Smith writes is going to be a grindhouse-style epic of pure horror entertainment. His latest novel is no exception, but as with his last release (Invitation to Murder) he offers his readers something a little different with ‘The Unseen’.

Allison is the biggest horror fan you’re ever likely to meet. She is an avid collector and horror movie connoisseur but her absolute favourite is the Friday the 13th franchise. When she is approached by a guy at a horror convention who boasts he has a copy of an unseen Friday the 13th entry she is sceptical at first, assuming it to be a fan film or a fake. What she sees, however, cannot be explained away so easily.

By viewing the movie that should not exist, she sets in motion a series of events that are beyond explanation. The movie she saw is not of this world and the consequences for viewing it, both for her and anyone around her, are more than she ever dared imagine.

What I wasn’t expecting when I picked up this book was a slow burn. Bryan Smith books tend to start off with a bang and build from there, but ‘The Unseen’ took its time to introduce characters, set up an intriguing premise, and ratcheted up the tension until things take off midway through the book. It is a lot more tense and atmospheric than I’ve come to expect from the author and turns out he is very good at it. I particularly enjoyed the hints at, and the eventual reveal of, The Visitor, who is a disturbing figure and not one we get all that much info on, which makes him all the more interesting.

While ‘The Unseen’ is by no means tame (it certainly has an impressive body count and more than its fair share of slasher inspired kills) don’t go in expecting a ‘Depraved’ level of gore or extreme content. The Unseen is a little more restrained and, at times, very creepy in comparison to some of Smiths more bombastic outings. What with his recent take on the classic murder mystery, this latest supernatural slasher, and an upcoming horror western, he seems to be experimenting outside of his usual wheelhouse at the moment and I’m very much enjoying the results.

The Unseen gives the reader plenty of what we love about Bryan Smith’s work. Strong female characters, unpredictability and inventive death scenes abound, but this latest novel is also a much slower burn than his typical action-packed offerings, building up the tension effectively and introducing an intriguing and genuinely scary new antagonist that I very much hope makes future appearances in his books. As someone who is a big Bryan Smith fan and has read the majority of his work, it is no small praise when I say ‘The Unseen’ is one of his best novels to date.

 

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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