First published back in September of 2015, Daniel Marc Chant’s novella ‘Mr Robespierre’ delivered a quietly escalating paranormal horror harking back to those glorious 80’s horror movies.

DLS Synopsis:
Dominic Wight knew that the house needed a lot of work, but for the agreed purchase price, Bridgewater Rise was nothing short of an absolute bargain.  It was going to be a considerable change in lifestyle for the young family.  They’d be moving from a pokey council house to a large detached family house located on the edge of the picturesque village of Lovels St Maur.

Dominic knew there was something about the house’s past that’d influenced the unusually low price for such a grandiose property.  But he decided it was nothing to concern his wife, Sandy, or more importantly their young daughter, Christina, over.

On their first day in the house, Dom and Chrissie decide to investigate their extensive but somewhat overgrown garden.  However as soon as they step foot into the garden they’re met by a grey cat who immediately shows the two strangers affection.  Around the cat’s collar Dominic spies a small brass nametag declaring the cat’s name as Mr Robespierre.  Chrissie instantly falls in love with the cat, and after the family fail to locate the cat’s real owners, Mr Robespierre becomes part of their family.

However, a week after Mr Robespierre had arrived at Bridgewater Rise, strange things begin to happen.  The family’s TV and radio repeatedly gets stuck playing Madonna, the volume increasing until the sound is deafening.  Toys set themselves off without warning, filling rooms with their noise, even though there’s no one there to operate them.  Doors would open and close on their own, slamming shut, loudly in the middle of the night.

But it’s when the house claims its first death that Dom starts to get worried.  Something is wrong with Bridgewater Rise.  No longer can they pass off the strange happenings around the house as electrical faults or the old house merely adjusting to the changing temperature.  Each night nightmares plague their sleeping hours and each day the family are feeling more and more worn down by whatever it is that appears to be haunting their home.

With the activity worsening by the day, Dom realises sooner or later something has to give.  He knows it’s now time they finally took action.

Something is lurking in Bridgewater Rise’s past.  Something dark and unspeakably evil.  An entity that hungers for souls.

And all the time, the family’s newly adopted cat licks its paws and watches…waiting…

DLS Review:
If you’ve read the above synopsis then you’ve probably gotten a sense of what to expect with the book.  We’re talking an old school 80’s horror movie vibe, very close to that of ‘Poltergeist’ (1982), or ‘The Amityville Horror’ (1979).  If you’ve read James Herbert’s ‘The Magic Cottage’ (1986) or any of Michael Bray’s excellent ‘Whisper’ (2013) trilogy, then you should expect something following a reasonably similar plot, although as the haunting worsens, so the tale begins to veer closer to the horrifyingly demonic elements of ‘The Exorcist’ (1973).

Chant’s undeniable strength is with his writing style.  His wordsmanship.  The man can weave a wonderfully enchanting storyline that just flows with a seemingly natural pace.  Characters aren’t necessarily fleshed-out to a novel defining level, nevertheless a bond is still established between the reader and the tale’s principal characters, which ultimately helps to make us care about their plight.

What’s great about ‘Mr Robespierre’ is how easy it is to get wrapped up in the events of the story.  Okay, so you’re not going to feel as if you’ve been flung about the place, or shoved down onto the very edge of your seat.  But the tale does pull you into an immersive embrace, keeping hold of you as the pages turn and the Wight family’s troubles escalate.

Don’t get me wrong through.  This ain’t no ‘Little House On The Prairie’ shit.  The horror might not be stabbing you in the face with a rusty pitchfork, but it’s nevertheless still there and constantly raising the heat level.

Earlier I made a comparison to ‘The Exorcist’ (1973). Although demonic possession isn’t really a part of the novella, the comparison still feels justifiable.  You see, it’s with the sheer intensity of the evil that’s plagued the lives of the family that seems to sit in a similar court to that of William Peter Blatty’s classic.

One thing this story most certainly is, is one that methodically escalates the horror.  At first it’s more of a brooding, troublesome annoyance.  However, as the tale progresses, so Chant slowly cranks up the tension.  Things get worse and worse.  We have the usual professionals called in (here in the form of a couple of parapsychologists from the University of Liverpool) as well as a moderately clichéd French medium.  It’s all very 80’s horror movie.  But in some ways that just works in the novella’s favour.  It puts you into a false sense of security.  You’ll think you’ll be able to guess exactly how it’s all going to pan out.  But you’ll be wrong.  Chant may love the 80’s vibe, but he’s still got some honest-to-god pulpy intensity up his sleeve to give the tale that much-needed sting in its tail.

All in all this is quite simply an enjoyable, entertaining and damn pleasurable read for any old school horror fan.  Yeah, you’re not going to leap out of your seat because of any explosive originality.  But it’s nevertheless still a damn good read, with such a masterfully woven storyline that it just pulls you in with the sheer enchanting enjoyment of reading the tale.

The novella runs for a total of 135 pages

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