Review: “Within,” Keith Deininger

Pros: Some imaginative horror
Cons: Odd info-dumps; too many characters
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review ebook provided free by publisher via NetGalley.
Expected release date: 5/5/2015


Keith Deininger’s Within was all right, but didn’t particularly pull me in. It’s a story about Upshaw Mansion, the strange person who lives there and throws constant parties, and the people who live near the mansion (or get pulled into it in other ways). It’s a horror tale, with plenty of blood, insanity, and pain. It reminds me a bit of Clegg’s The Abandoned, except less random. It’s sort of a haunted-house story, and sort of a haunted-town story, has the requisite history to qualify for being built on a terrible place, and of course is capable of coughing up lakes of blood at a moment’s notice.

There’s a ton of characters; I couldn’t keep track of them all. That made it difficult to care for most of them. Ultimately I think Deininger picked the right few characters to fight through things–they were the easiest to empathize with–but I wish more of the story had concentrated on them. It felt like the author spread the story too thin. Also, until toward the end there weren’t really many surprises. I was more than 50% of the way through the book before I felt like there was a story coming together underneath it all.

There are a few good quotes here and there:

Parties are not places to be insecure with reality.

I love that quote. It feels like it belongs in a terrific, mesmerizing tale, but the rest of the writing really didn’t live up to it. The story had its own window-dressing of course, but the crucial elements were all highly familiar. I also had trouble understanding why the author spent so much time on certain characters. There’s one whom we almost never see who for some reason rated a pretty long introduction (one which cut the tension at the beginning to almost nothing). Some of these unnecessary sections had a stream-of-consciousness feel that made them stand out even more.

There’s definitely something good here, but it felt like the author had trouble figuring out how to start the story off.

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