“Lord knows I’ve needed a friend these last few months.” -Mackenzie, Dead Spots by Rhiannon Frater
In the dead spots, dreams become reality, terror knows your name, and nightmares can kill you.
The stillbirth of Mackenzie’s son destroyed her marriage. Grieving, Mac reluctantly heads for her childhood home to seek refuge with her mother, who constantly reminds her of life’s dangers.
Driving across Texas, Mac swerves to avoid hitting a deer…and winds up in a dead spot, a frightening place that lies between the worlds of the living and the dead. If they can control their imaginations, people can literally bring their dreams to life—but most are besieged by fears and nightmares which pursue them relentlessly.
Mackenzie’s mother and husband haunt her, driving her to the brink of madness. Then she hears a child call for help and her maternal instincts kick into overdrive. Grant, Mac’s ally in the dead spots, insists Johnny is a phantom, but the boy seems so real, so alive….
As the true horrors of the dead spots are slowly revealed, Mackenzie realizes that time is running out. But exits from the dead spots are nearly impossible to find, and defended by things almost beyond imagination.
Rhiannon has crafted a brilliant look into the mind.
How it can trick you, cause you fear, weaken your body, weaken your senses, play on your hopes, your fears. The mind.
Being stuck in a world of your nightmares – tell me that doesn’t sound horrible. But for some people (myself included) that’s where we are. Always. Stuck in our fears (which are never-ending, mind you), trying in vain to still them, to be at peace with what those around you cannot understand. And there are those you hold close that are causing the anxiety but you are unable to realize it, trapped as you are in this never-ending cycle of dread, of overwhelming negativity.
She’s placed those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Depression or OCD or any mental and/or physical illness bearer into a world where their everyday plights are common, and it helps one recognize their symptoms, locate the cause, and perhaps even fight their way through, if only by seeing it on a page. The thought, “I am not alone,” came to mind while I read it.
If anything else, Dead Spots merely shows that people, that women, are not any ‘less’ for dealing with what they do, that the horrors of the world are not our fault, that the true way to gain power is through the self, and that no one can truly help you, but you. No one can take the step for a better life, but yourself.
But it’s one hell of a ride getting to that point, just like real life.
This was a wonderfully done novel, chilling me to the bone, causing me to maybe not sleep right away once I’d put it down for the night, and wonder just what prowled outside my window while I slept.
She caught my interest with Pretty When She Dies, now she has me as a reader for life with Dead Spots. Rhiannon Frater is on my list as my absolute favorite author, her ability to weave a rather ‘real’ story placed in a nightmarish ‘almost fictional’ world is quite frightening in its execution.
She’s a master of character, of depth, and story, and I feel I’m beginning to notice her trademark flair for the grotesque. (It startles me when I do read a particularly gruesome scene, only for me to go ‘She’s a sick one.’) Yet it only endears me to her work further.
I will be looking at Mrs. Frater’s backlog of work to pick up what I haven’t read, and I will be eagerly devouring all her new work.
She’s sunk her claws into me and I’m afraid they won’t come out.
Originally published on scparris.com.
S.C. Parris is the author of The Dark World series (Permuted Press, 2016), and loves all things horror and vampire. You can follow her on Tumblr for more.