Publisher: Subterranean Press
Author: Richard Chizmar
Release: July 26th
I received a copy of The Girl on the Porch through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Girl on the Porch is the latest novella from Richard Chizmar. The cover is what caught my attention, and it was Stephen King’s praise that sold me on this one. It’s described as being a dark and twisted thriller that’ll leave you afraid and distrusting of your neighbors.
The Girl on the Porch follows a small neighborhood rocked by a sudden change. A woman in cuffs was caught on camera – desperately trying to get the attention (and presumably help) of anybody within the houses on this street. Only, that never happened.
What follows is eerie and disturbing. It’s a tale of trying to discover who you can and can’t trust. I’m not entirely sure that it lived up to all of the hype it received though. Oddly enough, I think I would have liked it more had I not heard so much about it. Funny how that works sometimes, isn’t it?
Warnings: The description should give you a good idea of what to be concerned about here. But just in case, in this novella there are descriptions (both brief and longer) of kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder.
The Girl on the Porch was a fascinating and dark read. It was also a quick read, but since this is a novella I’m not terribly surprised by that fact. And it certainly was twisted. But the description left me expecting more twists and turns than what I got. So for a moment I’m going to ignore the description and the praise, and just look at the novella itself.
This novella was quick and more or less to the point. It followed on family in particular, and showed how something so drastic could change their lives. It’s unfathomable to think of your neighbors doing something so horrible. But it’s even worse to consider when most of your neighbors are close friends.
I love that Chizmar made the news almost an enemy in this novella. The reporters are the ones who kept digging and digging, and even the ones who put pieces of the puzzle together – and then revealed all of that information to the general public. They did exactly what you’d expect to see in real life – but this novella showed you the impact it has on those directly involved. It was fascinating.
I will say that when the final reveal came I was a little nonplussed. I felt like there was less buildup than I was expecting. Perhaps if it had been a full novel that would have been different? I know that some of the building up that had been hinting at another character’s guilt was just to throw us off the trail…but I would have liked to see more a conclusion from that side of things as well.
On the whole I did enjoy this novella. I think it was perfect for what it was, especially given how quickly I read it. I wouldn’t have minded seeing this story stretched out into something longer – I think it really had a lot of potential here.
Back to the praise for this novella. I was expecting twists and turns left and right. But I didn’t really get that. It left me confused at times, the dissonance between the two. I even went back and reread some of the novella, looking to see if I missed something. I don’t think I did. I’ll be curious to see how others felt about this novella versus the description.