‘Weeping Season’ by Sean O’Connor – Review

Though he didn’t say it, not wanting to scare her any further, he new in his gut that what was happening was no accident. As they wandered along, trying to figure out which direction they were heading in, a sickening smell grabbed their attention. Instead of moving away from it, they decided to follow it. If anything, it might lead them to some form of civilisation – some answer. With every cautious step, moving from the cover of each tree, it grew stronger, until they came to its source – a grey chain-link fence, about ten-foot high, with razor wire looping along its top. Fused to it were bodies – dozens of them – all naked, their charred remains blackened and reeking from the stench of electrified death and decomposition. 

Eight gasped in horror at the sight, turning into Seven’s chest to shield her vision from the hordes of flies, swarming and crawling all over the poor souls. 

Seven held her tight, unable to look away from the burnt remains of these people who so obviously had tried to escape from their harrowing predicament, or simply chose an easy out. Whatever the reason, Seven and Eight embraced as the realisation of their reality dawned. Beyond the fence stood nothing but trees as far as the eye could see, and they were obviously on the wrong side of it. He scanned along the structure until it was swallowed up in the far distance by the forest. We’re trapped.

 

Synopsis-

Two strangers wake up in a wood, naked and chained to adjoining trees with no memory of how they got there or who they are. Soon a disembodied voice is barking orders and they’re following them, but should they be? They need to find a way out of this strange and violent facility, but can they make it out alive?

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Weeping Season is a fast paced paranoia filled story, a mysterious mindfuck until the very last quarter and just when you think you get it – you don’t. It hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until the last page. If you’re looking for a level-headed and rational story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Based on this and O’Connor’s debut novella Mongrel, it looks like O’Connor likes to force his characters into dangerous and isolating scenarios and torturous wilderness and push them to their limits – there’s no exception for Weeping Season.

You can find my review of O’Connor’s first novella The Mongrel here.

Reading the story I did feel that at times the pace was a little too frantic. There seemed to be significant moments and acts happening to and we’re enacted by the group that were almost glossed over by the rushing time. A couple of times I did reread paragraphs just to let certain things sink in better. I think if the story was perhaps a little longer there would have been more space for the moments to be stretched out and have more of an impact on me. There are also multiple people in this group of kidnapees and though some of them are described in depth, a couple faded into the background, particularly the woman who is found unconscious and stays unconscious for the rest of the story. I was expecting her to awake and have some sort of part of the plot but she seems like a dead weight that could have been used more effectively. In saying this though, the main characters are fleshed out enough that this isn’t a major road block for the reader, just something I noticed when reading.

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Weeping Season has been compared to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror which never fails to conjure up images of advanced technologies used maliciously and twists that never fail to shock, and I can tell you its a pretty fair comparison here. There’s something about being watched by (usually) rich and sadistic people, that gives most readers the creep factor, and Weeping Season mixes this creep factor with violence, amnesia, a desperate need to survive – the recipe for a dark and savage novel. If you’re looking for a stories that plunge you right into terrifying situations along with the protagonist, give the reader nothing that the protagonist doesn’t get, and leaves you with your jaw on the floor in the last chapter, I’d suggest you look up O’Connor and keep an eye on that name in the future.

 

About the Author-

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Seán O’Connor is an Irish author born in Dublin. Always a lover of horror and dark fiction, his debut horror novella ‘The Mongrel‘ was published by Matador Press in October 2018, and he currently lives in North Dublin with his fiance and son working on his next tale of darkness.

You can follow Seán on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his via his website seanoconnor.org

 

Links to Buy and Review-

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads

 

How do you feel about mystery horror novels? Have you read O’Connor’s ‘Mongrel’ yet? What do you think of technology in horror stories? 

‘The Mongrel’ by Sean O’Connor – Review

“She got out and shook out the damp apron, folded it up, then stuffed it under her arm. The oversized chef jacket was buttoned up tight to her neck, as cosy as she could make it. Readying herself, she stared up the middle of the road in the direction Phil had left. 

The baby kicked, and she took a few deep breaths, rubbing her bump until it calmed. She refused to let the hunger trouble her any further this morning. Fate had given her, Erin Greene, a mission – she had somewhere to go and needed to focus on the task in hand. She popped more snow into her mouth, prepared herself mentally for the long struggle ahead and, with a deep breath, took her first step onto the freezing, snow-covered road, heading for salvation.”

 

Erin Greene is a woman caught between the men in her life. With a baby on the way she’s struggling to find the balance between her over-protective father and her over-bearing boyfriend. She knows something has to give for her family to feel like a family again, and maybe, just maybe, this romantic drive to the Wicklow mountains to watch the sun set, could mark the turning point for her and Phil. Of course there’s a storm rolling in and the cars been on the blink, but together they can get through it. But it’s getting cold and the lonely Wicklow wilderness, might not be so lonely after all…

 

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Ignore my nails and look at my cool ‘Women in Horror’ badge instead.

 

For ‘The Mongrel‘ I was lucky enough to go to the book launch of the novella and score some free wine with my purchase. Introduced by the authors Jonathon Barry, writer of ‘The Devils Hoof‘, and Matt Hayward who I have reviewed before for his short story collection ‘Brain Dead Blues‘ which you can see here. I can’t honestly say how inspiring it was to be sitting in a local book shop and seeing other Irish horror authors up there talking about their work, if you need motivation to get your own writing done, go to book launches! You are supporting the community you want to join and also – FREE WINE! I feel very lucky to have been in contact with other Irish horror writers like Seán O’Connor, Matt Hayward, and also the YA writer Tina Callaghan – the first review I wrote on this blog was for her YA horror ‘Dark Wood Dark Water‘ which you can see here, just saying. The horror community in Ireland is getting bigger and I can’t wait to see what else shows up on the scene from these writers and more. The future is exciting for horror!

 

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My name is not capitalized because he had no idea what I was saying.

 

Seán O’Connor was the man of the hour though and he was lovely to meet, he signed my copy of ‘The Mongrel‘ and I lied and said I would have a review up in a week or so… it’s been about three months I think. A fine debut novella, I can only hope that Seán keeps writing, and keeps setting his stories in and around Ireland and our mythology. I love a good Irish horror story and we have so much more darkness to give the genre. I look forward to his next read.

 

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Very minor spoilers ahead – to paraphrase Stephen King, you can’t ruin a book with spoilers because the joy is in the journey. The twists will remain hidden. 

 

Things I Liked – 

Something I will always root for is a great female protagonist and if I end a book with no mention of bra size or how beautiful yet unknowing a woman is, that tends to be a good sign. Erin Greene as a character shows depth and humanity, as a protagonist it’s both easy to follow and easy to want to follow her harrowing journey of isolation and transformation. O’Connor manages to keep the prose tense and surprising though the core of the story is a trope we’ve all read before – a journey through a storm in a dodgy vehicle, it can never end well.

 

Things I Didn’t Like – 

So, the two spoilers that aren’t spoilers are that Erin gives birth and there are wolves in the Wicklow mountains. These come up pretty quickly so they shouldn’t ruin the story for anyone. Armed with a few swigs of whiskey Erin manages to give birth by herself and not only that, it isn’t a straightforward birth either (that’s all I’m saying about that horror). My problem with the birth scene was that it felt quite devoid of pain. I’ve never given birth myself but I’ve been at them and I’m pretty sure there isn’t much else to feel while it’s happening but pain, especially when things go wrong. I’m not saying there should have been a blow by blow of every ache and internal stab but it felt strange that the pain was barely mentioned and especially since the birth is nowhere near the end of her misfortunes – she has to get up and run afterwards. I would also like to get rid of the trope of swigging alcohol before dealing with pain, it doesn’t work that quickly and from experience I know you need more than a shot to make any difference.

A problem with novellas and short stories is that sometimes you can feel like you just don’t have enough space for the story, and with something like ‘The Mongrel‘, a story with plenty of twists and conspiracies thrown in, much of this was not explained to my satisfaction.  Particularly towards the end I found myself wondering about certain characters and motivations, there were certain throwaway lines that I would have liked to have been explained more, or even less weight given to the back story.

That being said, I was still able to enjoy ‘The Mongrel‘ on the strength of Erin’s character and her will to survive.

 

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About the Author – 

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Seán O’Connor is an Irish author born in Dublin. Always a lover of horror and dark fiction, his debut horror novella ‘The Mongrel‘ was published by Matador Press in October 2018, and he currently lives in North Dublin with his fiance and son working on his next tale of darkness.

You can follow Seán on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his via his website seanoconnor.org

To get your hands on The Mongrel or give it a well deserved review of your own, follow these links. Remember! A review is a good as a quid –

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Goodreads

 

Have you read ‘The Mongrel’? Do you know of any other great horror reads, particularly Irish horror? Let me know down below!

If you have a horror/dark fiction/sci-fi/thriller novel, short story, or collection you would like me to review, please get in contact!