Book Review by Katy Haas
Christopher Locke’s 25 Trumbulls Road, 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition Winner, is twenty-two pages of eerie enjoyment. The chapbook reads like five short horror films. Each story is called a “case” and is labeled with a date, which makes them feel a little more real despite remaining firmly planted in the surreal and fantastic. The cases are then broken up into numbered “exhibits,” some of which have been redacted. These redacted sections further steep the stories in mystery—what has been removed and why?
Each story, except one, starts similarly: a family moves into a new home and begins to experience unexplainable events. A woman comes to the newcomer in a dream and leads her into the woods, characters hear source-less voices, objects thrown away return as if tethered to the homeowners. Sure, these are tropes we’ve seen in horror movies for years, but there’s something fresh and poetic about Locke’s little stories. There’s no reliance on special effects or visual jump scares. The horror is all in our imaginations, brought to life by Locke’s straight forward prose. With the short length of the stories, we’re immediately plunged into the darkness with little room to catch our breaths before another tale is introduced.
I read the chapbook while in public, during the middle of the day, sure that if I saved it for my bedtime reading, I’d be too creeped out to sleep soundly. And this is exactly what I want out of a book like this: to be both creeped out and impressed. Locke manages to do both in limited space. 25 Trumbulls Road is a perfectly bite-sized bit of literary horror.
25 Trumbulls Road by Christopher Locke. Black Lawrence Press, February 2020.
About the reviewer: Katy Haas is Assistant Editor at NewPages. Recent poetry can be found in Taco Bell Quarterly, petrichor, and other journals. She regularly blogs at: https://newpagesblog.com/.