Review of Kaaron Warren, “Furtherest”, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books, 2018): 55—76. Purchase Here. Originally published in Dark Screams Volume Seven, edited by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance/Hydra, 2017). Purchase Here. Reviewed by Rob Francis.
Another engaging story in the anthology, and a rewarding read. The story revolves around four boat houses on an Australian beach, with the (unnamed female) protagonist’s family occupying one house during their summer beach holidays, and the others acting as home to the indolent ‘Jason’s dad’ and the rather disturbing ‘Mr White/Grandpa Sheet/Grandad Sheet’ as he’s variously called. There is something sinister about the dunes at the back of the house and there are rumours of a spate of suicides over the years, so no-one wants to venture inside, despite Grandpa Sheet’s exhortations to see who can go ‘furtherest’. The story starts when the protagonist is a young girl, and then resumes when she is older and the family, experiencing its own problems, visits the beach once again. It’s a mysterious and unnerving story that kept me gripped to the end.
It took me a little while to get into the narrator’s voice and to work out the different characters in the houses and so on, but the gradual reveal of the various layered elements of the story was admirable, as was the portrayal of family dynamics. I also learnt a lot from the story. With the early reference to the Vietnam conflict I originally assumed that the story was set in the USA and was a little confused by some of the more British phrasing, only to realise the that story takes place in Australia – and not only that I’m a bit ignorant of some aspects Australian history and culture, but also that I don’t seem to have read much horror fiction set in Australia, which is something that I’ll have to rectify. I intend to check out Warren’s other stories in the near future.