I’d read Stephen Graham Jones’s MONGRELS and loved his earthy, so-real-it’s-comical take on werewolves. I ended up giving his novella MAPPING THE INTERIOR a try, and I’m glad I did. It’s a pretty powerful story and shows how horror does not need to be a literary end in itself but instead a lens to look at humanity or the world a new way.
The story is about a boy whose father disappeared so long ago he barely remembers him. His hardworking mother raises him and his brother Dino, who has learning difficulties. At night, the boy think he sees an apparition of what might be his father stalking the house. Is it a real haunting–his father trying to get back to his family–or only wishful thinking? And as the ghost gains strength and the boy learns who his father really was, what would he sacrifice to bring dad back?
This is a novel about a haunting, but it’s really about a boy growing up without a father and the romanticizing and idealizing children do for their parent who isn’t there. It’s about generations of men failing their children, who grow up swearing to do better only to repeat the cycle. Jones writes with a strong voice and raw style that makes his characters feel real, warts and all, including honesty about their own failings and the failings of those they love.
In short, I enjoyed this one as something a little deeper and more literary in a horror read.