Rating: 3 out of 5
Serena T. Nobert’s Beneath Us is a collection of four paranormal/horror tales.
In the first story, 14-year-old John makes the mistake of stealing a small ceramic skull as a result of peer pressure from his friend. After that, strange things start happening in his house. I think his older brother Jack leaps awfully swiftly to the conclusion that these two things are linked–as in, the moment he finds out about the theft. The writing is a little stilted and awkward, as though the writer hasn’t quite found her rhythm and voice yet. This particular story is a bit on the simple side. The amount of space devoted to different things (pacing, basically) is also a bit weird; for instance, a couple of pages are devoted to John convincing his father to let him go camping, then camping takes up all of one paragraph. After a couple of pages like that, there should be some sort of payoff.
In the second story, Eleanor dreams of finding her dead grandmother, only to receive a call from her father (John, from the first story) saying her grandfather has died. He asks her to go to the house to start sorting and cleaning things while he and his wife are in Mexico. After Eleanor arrives, things take a turn for the scary. I can’t go into too much detail without giving too much away here. Certain important things that happen are glossed over as though there isn’t any explanation required, when really, there does need to be at least a little explanation or foreshadowing or something to at least indicate that these particular things are possible within the world of the story.
The third story is pretty standard fare. Rose, a nurse, has moved into a new home she got for cheap and her friends are helping her move in. Naturally one of her friends brought and insists on using a Ouija board, which predicts various unlikely things for each person–and “death” for poor Rose. Where things go from here is beat-for-beat pretty much exactly what you’d expect.
Finally, in story number four, Sarah moves to the country with her father and he gets her a night shift job at the lumbermill. They keep firing young hires–or having them quit–and Sarah has to admit, the young man working with her does like to spend too much time on his phone. But one day Anthony unexpectedly quits, and then goes missing. This one is intriguing.
There’s some interesting material in these four stories. It isn’t amazing, but it isn’t bad either. It’s some middle-of-the-road horror to help you pass an evening. I think the author has potential.