Mapping the Interior: A Creepy Novella Review

I received this book in my August Nocturnal Reader’s Box (a box dedicated to all eerie fiction!), and figured its review would fit in perfectly for my Halloween-themed posts. It’s a novella about an American Indian boy whose dead father’s ghost is suddenly making its presence at their home. It was a quick read, and definitely a fun one for this time of year.

Mapping the Interior: A Creepy Novella ReviewMapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Published by St. Martins Press-3pl on June 20th 2017
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 112
Format: Paperback
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Mapping the Interior is a horrifying, inward-looking novella from Stephen Graham Jones that Paul Tremblay calls "emotionally raw, disturbing, creepy, and brilliant."

Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you'd rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

What I liked:

1. I appreciated the glimpse into life on a American Indian reservation. While this book doesn’t take place on a reservation, there is enough allusion to the past that you get a sense of the poverty and depravity that these people are living in. I haven’t read any books that have touched on this sensitive subject. While I found it interesting, I also thought it quite sad.

2. The novella is written in such a way as to almost be dream-like. There is a creepy quality to everything that you’re reading. When the eerie and bizarre scenes do occur, you’re left wondering what was real and what was simply a dream or illusion. 

3. The ending. It had quite an unexpected twist. Throughout the book the relationship between Junior and his brother, Dino, is at times very sweet. The way their relationship evolves is unexpected, and I appreciated the surprise of it.

What I didn’t like:

1. There were times when this book was almost so cerebral/obtuse that I didn’t quite understand what was going on. I recognize that there is supposed to be a lot of symbolism and heavy moments in this book, but I couldn’t always pick them up. This was a big sticking point for me. It was the main reason this book wasn’t a 5-star read.

2. It felt a little brief, but I do recognize that it is a novella. I haven’t read a novella in ages, so maybe my mind has forgotten what they’re like?

Ultimately, I would encourage someone to read this if a) they enjoy Native American fiction, and/or b) they enjoy creepy/paranormal reads!

Do you read novellas? What’s the last one that you read and enjoyed? 

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