Review: “Knock Knock,” S.P. Miskowski

Pros: Definitely creepy
Cons: The first half or so is drawn out
Rating: 4 out of 5

Knock Knock is a horror tale told by S.P. Miskowski. Ethel, Beverly, and Marietta are school friends in Skillute, Washington, even though they’re each very different from the other two. On a girlish whim they decide none of them ever wants to get pregnant, and they use a spell from Marietta’s aunt Delphine’s store of them to ensure this never happens. Naturally they cast the spell in the woods where the “part myth, part fireside tale” Miss Knocks is said to cart off children. Of course when Beverly is fourteen she has sex with a boy from school, and ends up pregnant. Eventually, over the course of long, sad lives, each of the girls ends up pregnant exactly once. And when it’s Ethel’s turn, her daughter turns out… wrong. When expecting parents Greg and Lydia move into town, they get swept up in the supernatural events brought on by one very angry ghost.

The portion of the story covering most of the girls’ lives, until Ethel ends up pregnant at age 43, is a bit slow and long. There’s little overtly strange going on during this time–it’s mostly just a depressing look at poor, rural living. Once Connie Sara is born, however, things pick up. The girl is positively psychopathic, and for me it was Ethel’s growing fear of her own baby that finally kicked this story into gear. It was amazing how scary and tense the author made a particular scene in which Connie Sara is crawling from room to room as her mother tries to get away from her. (Trying to describe it makes it sound silly–you’ll have to read it for yourself. It actually works very well.)

I have to stress that there’s a trigger warning for animal abuse and death. Connie Sara is a brutal child, and some of the incidents are tough to read. Also child death. There’s also a very frank and uncomfortable scene of teens having sex for the first time–it isn’t romanticized, which is nice.

The characters in here are interesting and definitely have depth. No one’s entirely likable, but they’re sympathetic enough to hold my interest. There are no truly happy marriages in here; it’s depressing.

Things get a bit surreal toward the end, and a few of the touches there (mysterious fog banks, a car that cuts out and then is fine the next day) are somewhat stereotypical haunting fare. The climax of the story, however, is quite engaging. All in all I recommend this ugly, dark horror tale.

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