By Simon P. Clark
Available now from St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan)
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton's famous quote offers one look at the way stories interact with childhood. TELL THE STORY TO THE END focuses on the other side. It is not a horror novel where things jump out at the protagonist or monsters rise up out of oozing slime. It is a horror novel that says you might not get your happy ending.
I was hooked from the title alone. It could be a positive affirmation, but combined with the smooky and shadowy cover, it is delightfully sinister. The book opens with Oli, a young boy, speaking with Eren, a strange creature that wants him to tell stories. Each chapter opens with more of this ongoing conversation, then flashes back to how it came to happen. There are stories within stories, as Oli gathers more to tell to Eren. Perhaps the most important is Oli's own story, the one he has to seek out because all the adults in his life are lying to him. There is something going on with his father, but no one will tell him.
The sense of creeping doom is well captured by debut author Simon P. Clark. The opening makes it clear that things are going to come to a head, but he doesn't rest on that self evident truth. The world of Oli's dreams starts seeping into his waking hours. Whatever the reader believes is or isn't actually happening, it is clear that Oli has gotten himself into trouble and is only digging deeper.
TELL THE STORY TO ITS END is a lovely little horror story about a boy falling prey to the danger lurking just upstairs. He notices more than the adults want him to, and at the same time they fail to notice enough. As everyone tries to help Oli with his struggles moving to the countryside and missing his dad, no one suspects something more sinister lurking. This is a tale to keep you up at night.