Book: Suffer the Darkness
Author: Yolanda Sfetsos
Publisher: DarkLit Press (release date June 18, 2023)
Genre: Horror/Small Town
Why You Should Read It
Small town horror vibes, something creepy in the woods, middle-aged mom main character.
Why I Liked It
“If you venture into the woods alone, he’ll be waiting for you. If you look deep into his eyes, he’ll come for you. If you’re brave enough to stay, he’ll never let you go.”
I loved the vibes of the first couple of seasons of Stranger Things. Small town vibes. Everyone knows everyone else. One of the main characters is a middle-aged single mom who’s desperate to find her kid and everyone thinks she’s nuts. You’ve got a grizzled love interest B-plot for the mom, plus something creepy and unexplained in the woods. Alternate universes. Ghostly visits. Villains hiding in plain sight. If all of these elements sound appealing to you, then Yolanda Sfetsos’s Suffer the Darkeness is sure to hit all of your sweet spots too.
The story opens up in the small town of Thicket with a mom (Kae) rushing to the hospital to visit her teen daughter (Molly) who disappeared over a year prior. Kae is understandably overjoyed that her daughter has returned, but it’s quickly apparent that something is very wrong with her daughter. The teen has horrible looking self-inflicted wounds, refers to Kae as “mother” instead of “mom” and is basically just kind of a shell of her former self. Kae wants to bring her troubled, unwell kid home to care for her, but she’s got twins at home to consider and a jerky ex-husband that’s about as useful as a bag of rocks.
Kae also gets a nice little side romance plot with her old flame from high school (Roy) which helps her to deal with the trauma she’s experiencing. Roy also lost his son in a similar manner years before, and together they lean on each other as they try to figure out what happened to her daughter. We also learn of an entity in the woods (Czort) that may have something to do with all of the chaos happening in the little town. Some things about Molly’s disappearance and the creepy entity in the woods never get fully answered, which I personally prefer. It’s scarier to me if some things are left up to interpretation or are never answered at all because that’s life, right?
Yolanda offers up lots of spooky, demonic and ghostly imagery throughout this fast-paced novella (about 140 pages) in a way that’s familiar and fresh all at once. There are no lulls or scares wasted and the ending was satisfactory and I only halfway guessed it. Suffer the Darkness is a great novella to help kick you out of a reading slump thanks to fast pacing and a storyline that will make you race to the end. If you’re looking for a book chock full of small town scares that deliver in a big way, be sure to check out Suffer the Darkness!