Short Take: “Oak Avenue,” Brandi Reeds

Pros: Dark and threatening
Cons: Hard to read; cuts off a bit early
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Brandi Reeds’s Oak Avenue (Dark Corners collection) is a horror novella about a young family that moves into a historical house in the country. Unexplained things start happening to Anastasia, and her husband Eddie not only doesn’t believe her, but starts acting strange and threatening himself. The only person who’s being friendly to Anastasia–who isn’t from that town–is someone Eddie doesn’t trust from high school, and soon Eddie even begins to believe Ana is sleeping with his old acquaintance. Ana’s just concerned about keeping her baby safe, but the local nosy old woman believes leaving the house won’t be enough to make things better.

The oddities happening in the old house Ana and Eddie have moved into build up very quickly and feel a little sudden. That said, they’re believably dark and sinister once they get started.

I found part of this story depressing and hard to read. Ana’s alone in this new town, no one likes her except for a man it’ll ruin her reputation to be seen with, her in-laws have no interest in her, and even the guy digging up the dead trees on the property insists he’ll only take direction from her husband. Right now, in the current climate with misogyny taking up so much of the news, I found this difficult to read about. It was a little too ‘real.’ I’m sure for some this will make the horror deeper and easier to relate to–it’s a matter of taste, I believe, and I think it’s good to know about before you decide whether to read the story.

While the story ends at a suitably chilling place, I still would have liked to see more. There are some assertions made that never really get a chance to be tested or played with.

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