Title: Once Upon a Lane
Author: Duncan Wilson
Genre: Literary Fiction, Urban Fiction
“There once was a lane, filled with well-tended lawns and well-fostered friendships, of well-appointed houses all neat and tidy and those that live within, of stories and mysteries that manifest for only fleeting moments for the few who pay attention. This is one such tale. A tale about pleasant people, about the lives they live, about their wants and dreams, about their loves and losses, their joys and hates, about their days and nights in the company of cherished companions in the houses they call home. In this tale of the happy little lives of blissful simple folk, there are monsters, to be sure. But this is not the story of monsters, this is not the tale of their evil deeds, this is the tale of those they make suffer. In this tale, the monsters have no names. The monsters do not deserve names.”
A character-driven slice-of-life story that follows the humble lives of the residents of a suburban neighborhood as they live and love, and about the house with the dead yard, a vacant lot, that sits among their homes, inert and immobile, yet intimidating and terrifying to any who look at it too long. The children of the lane are not the only ones who are fearful of the anomaly in their midst. Every adult upon the lane wonders why the structure still stands, with no known owner and no reason to be. The lingering question is not who owns the house, but why no one ever goes in or comes out, and why there are such ghastly noises emanating from within. Day by day, the happy people of the lane go about their tasks and trials, and day by day, the house with the dead yard seems a little more ominous, a little more intrusive, and a little less ignorable than before.
This is a paranormal book unlike any other I have ever read. This is a considerable statement since I have been reading books like this often since the early 1980's and my personal library even has paranormal books from the 50's.
The author takes the unique approach to never define the evil in the neighborhood. That allows the mind of the reader to come up with ideas as to what the evil monster is. I haven't seen such incredible descriptive work in a paranormal book since Peter Straub's Ghost Story.
To my mind, the house in the lane that is the centerpiece of terror to this wholesome lane could be a crack house. Wouldn't such a place located in such a bucolic suburban nirvana take on the homage of a house of horrors? It is not much of a stretch to think people who walked into its door never came out again because of the grip of addiction. The poison seeping through the area could be the poison that is narcotics. You could even take this 21st century and see the house with the dead yard as the purveyor of opioids. That could be the blight that tears the fabric of suburban life and continues to, to this day. The reader gets caught up in the lives and tribulations of the inhabitants.
If you want to read a book unlike any you have ever read - check this one out. The author allows the reader to decide what the monster is and that can be the scariest thing for a reader.
My Rating: 5 stars
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Duncan Wilson has been writing since childhood, having fallen in love with the written word at a very early age. Having spent his formative years in various libraries, he can bore his friends on a variety of subjects. Inspired by the natural world and the splendors of the heavens, he writes primarily science fiction and paranormal stories. Other than writing, he enjoys cooking, playing games with friends, and listening to music.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N