*Disclaimer* I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
He wanders the night feeding off your fears.
His right hand has five candles for fingers to light up the darkest of hours.
Beware if you lose your way at night and see him.
Stay away from his light.
He will lead you to a place of darkness never to sleep or awake again.
Sleep. We all need it, but not everyone gets it. Studying the effects of night terrors, a doctor recruits five strangers to write down their nightmares in order to find out what causes them. As these strangers lives begin to intertwine, they realise that they have more in common than just bad dreams and that this doctor may not be telling them the whole truth. As they each struggle with their own demons they must now face the one demon that they all share before it’s too late.
“With a deep and labored breath she ran her hand through her short brown hair feeling the dampness at the roots from sweat. The back of her shirt clung to her skin like saran wrap as she pushed the blankets away from her body to cool down. She reached over to her bedside table and flipped the switch on the lamp and sat up. It was 3am and she felt too shaken to try and go back to sleep.”
Over the course of our lifespan we sleep for 26 years.
Don’t Follow has an interesting premise and I think in terms of horror, night terrors is something that should be explored more. The characters are really the driving force of this novel and their relationships are what keep you interested in between the creeping dread and horror that surrounds them. Lane has a talent for writing frustratingly flirtatious scenes and there was more than once I was so enthralled by the characters, I forgot about the evil entirely.
That being said, I felt that the introduction of the characters was more like a laundry list. It was the type of quick, short, descriptions jumping all over that would work in a screen play or movie but in a novel you just don’t have time to fix the character in your mind before you are thrust into a different scene with another. There are also two very similar bars where different characters work and frequent which at times could be quite confusing.
The actual story however was enjoyable, I would read this again and perhaps just pay a little more attention. I do have a love of anything that comes for you in your sleep and nightmares have such a potential for evil and darkness that I’ll take anything with nightmare demons in them. I like how Odette had diverse characters who turned stereotypes on their heads or just accepted them and made them their own. They explore sexuality, alcoholism, depression, and grief all the while being stalked by a shadowy demon of death – what more could you ask for really.
The last sentence read. “It will find me again, and when it does, I need to rid it from this world.”
To be honest, the monster of this story is just background noise, even the open conflict is second hand to the relationships of the group. And the doctor who brought them all together is barely seen at all, a forgotten pawn in the plot that needed to be more than she was. I was expecting long drawn out exploratory therapy sessions and pushing for more information, but in reality she seemed to not have much time for her subjects at all, and quickly disappears when they discover what her real intentions are. The diary extracts that she has them write about their nightmares were a little flat for me. When dealing with nightmares I find it far more compelling to be experiencing them with the character not reading descriptions of them.
I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a fresh take on nightmare horror. The characters are well written and well connected, you will believe the relationships that you read about in Don’t Follow and will find it very difficult not to empathise with them. I look forward to seeing more from Odette Lane in the future.
About the Author:
Don’t Follow is the debut horror novel from Odette Lane, a native Minesotan who now lives in Los Angeles. Lane has studied creative writing and film production, performing her prose and poetry across stages in New York City and has worked on multiple film productions.
Where to Buy and Review:
Do you suffer from night terrors? Do we need to explore the world of nightmares and dreams more in horror? What’s more important in a novel to you – the terror of the monster or the characters and their relationships to one another? Let me know down below!