I really, really enjoyed this novella. Steve Stred and I come from the same neck of the woods so-to-speak, being Canadian neighbours. In saying that, it felt like this book was written in my backyard and the gramps character was all too real to me. The book is about (you guessed it) The Window in the Ground (2020). There is a lot of mystery surrounding the window but one thing’s for certain, you’re drawn to it. That is something I think makes the story so immersive. I was captivated trying to figure out what dark secrets lay waiting beneath the window. That and the way the townspeople react to its power. Their fear makes them turn to some ritualistic type solutions I found compelling, to say the least.
A boy finds himself venturing to the outskirts of town with his grandfather. Although hesitant, he follows along as his gramps is determined to make a man out him. There is a dark secret that resides on the edge of town, a secret that the townsfolk will protect at all costs. Gramps figures the boy should see it now instead of stumbling upon the ancient place without fully understanding the evil that resides just through the woods outside of the town limits. He had the best intentions but bringing the boy put certain events into motion that will have terrifying consequences. Now, the young man is about to find out exactly why the townsfolk fear The Window in the Ground.
Here’s the thing, I think a lot of us can remember visiting a small town that felt eerie. Where I’m from, there are tons of small farming communities and I’ve always had this feeling that the people were hiding something or there was some terrible secret I wasn’t privy to. I got those feelings again reading this book. I just had an easy time connecting to the story, especially the gramps character. It was a little surreal reading about him as he was all too familiar to me. Everything from the smell of the upholstery in his car, to the tough love attitude, was a subtle reminder of my gramps. This all made for a great reading experience that I found tough to put down.
Is there anything more compelling than a good mystery? Personally, I don’t think so. I like the way those stories take hold of you and won’t let go. Steve Stred managed to grab my interest that way with the darned window. It had the same effect on me as it did on the townspeople. I was drawn to it. The power it had as someone approached, the unknowing terrors below the candlelit pane of glass, and the consequences of getting too close. I was fully invested in figuring out just what the heck was going on with this dark and dreadful entrance into a seemingly unknown world of horrors.
This is the first story I’ve read by Steve Stred but after reading this novella I’m certainly craving more. Dark rituals are something that has always intrigued me. These bizarre ceremonies seem to be the author’s specialty and I’m all in. Although this wasn’t a big part of the book, I liked the idea behind it. Usually, the ritual is a means of conjuring the evil thing but in this tale, we find that a ceremony is a result of the mystery behind the malignant force. The townsfolk can’t know what terrifying truth awaits them beyond the window so they conform to ritualistic methods that they think appease it. It’s different, it’s creative and I love it!
There’s a lot to enjoy in this novella. It was a great first impression of the authors writing style which left me wanting more. The Window in the Ground is a bleak and immersive coming-of-age tale that embarks on a mysterious secret hidden away from the world. Steve Stred crafted an addictive story full of small town nostalgia and dark rituals that are sure to captivate readers and instill dread.
Steve Stred is an independent author who worked with The Writing Collective to publish this book which is available on Amazon.