In his novella, Fearless, Ashley Lister takes the very thing that drives horror and bends it, toys with it, removes it completely. Lister takes a very simple, clever idea and presents it in a fast-paced, exciting, and horrifying way. The novella contains three sub-plots that weave around each other with each one being important and exciting on its own while working within the larger plot. This is not only impressive, but makes the book incredibly exciting and never lets up.
Ashley Lister does a clinic in this book on dialogue and characters. He makes us care about the characters, builds them up, makes them real. He builds their personalities, relationships, humor, their world and then uses our own emotions against us as his own tool for horror. The people in Fearless feel so real and carefully created that I truly cared for them as I was reading. A story is only as good as its characters and, thanks to Lister, these characters make for a phenomenal story.
I could keep talking here about how great of a job Lister does at writing his plot(s) and characters, but I think it is important to mention how big of a fan Lister is of horror and how great of a job he pieces in horror tropes and sub-genres into his story. Lister perfectly pays respect to his love of horror and it is done in a seamless, subtle, and perfect way. Ashley Lister is obviously gifted at writing and uses a whole slew of tricks and skills to put layers of plot, character, homages, humor, wit, horror, and story into Fearless. Not only is this book a great read, but the more thought given to it, the more layers are revealed.
Honestly, my only critique is that this should be a full novel. Having it as a novella is great and it helps keep the pace up, but I would love to see it expanded more and developed even more. I would say that pace is good and makes for a fun read, but, with such interesting plots and characters, there is nothing wrong with slowing down from time to time to really explore and expand them.
Read this book. What more can I say? You will enjoy it…no matter who is reading my review right now, you will enjoy this novella. The plot is strong, the characters are even stronger. It is extremely well written and will make you question the very nature of fear and the role it plays in horror. Go here to buy this book and, unlike the characters, you will feel fear.