Friday 11 February 2022

THE MAKER'S BOX by David Barclay


Emily has been obsessed with the occult since her mother died, collecting every pagan curio and oddity she can find. Then on the night of her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a piece of real magic: a beating human heart inside a wooden box. If the gift weren't strange enough, his instructions are even stranger: “You'll need to feed it to keep it alive.”

The box needs her blood, and in exchange, shows her rousing and wondrous things. Desires she never knew existed. But as Emily’s father lapses into addiction, as she grows weak with blood loss, she realizes all too late the box has desires of its own. 

The Maker’s Box is a contemporary dark fairy tale of magic, obsession, and madness.

The author of this novella contacted me a few weeks ago, and because the premise sounded interesting, I asked him to send me an ARC. 

When Emily's father gives her a beating heart inside a box for her sixteenth birthday, she doesn't think it's that odd because he's not exactly a conventional parent. But the heart needs to be fed and it doesn't take long before she tries to figure out the mystery...

Well, this turned out to be quite a strange and dark tale. I mean that in the best way possible because I really enjoyed it.

I like stories set in our world that also throw caution to the wind and introduce the unbelievable in a whimsical, intriguing way that sweeps me away for a fun ride. Emily's story takes some weird and wondrous turns, is full of blood and obsession. Deals with addiction in several different ways, while also delving into troubled family ties, deadly secrets, and complicated friendships.

Emily is such a terrific narrator, a joy to spend time with. She's nice, loyal, determined to keep the peace at home, and totally consumed with her pet heart. Firstly, she desperately wants to make sure to feed it, and later, wants to figure out who it belongs to, what it wants, and how to stop losing herself before it's too late. 

We also catch a glimpse of her friend, Noah's POV. I liked her grandmother, but despised her father. I won't get into what a mess that guy turned out to be. I would've liked to see more interactions with Stacey, because her connection to Emily was interesting.

The Maker's Box is a story that ventures into some very grim situations, definitely doesn't shy away from the bizarre, and often tumbles into disturbing. All while still managing to be freaky fun!

Thanks for sending me a copy, David.

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