About the Author:
Published by The Absent Willow Review, Identity Theory, The Stranger, Horror Bound Online Magazine, Other Voices, Fine Madness and Black Ice, and soon to be published in Supernatural Tales 21, author S.P. Miskowski has won two Swarthout prizes for short fiction and received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, for short fiction and drama. Her 2008 play about cyberbullying, “my new friends (are so much better than you)” was nominated for the prestigious American Theatre Critics Association/ Steinberg New Play Award. She recently completed “Knock Knock,” a supernatural horror novel set in the deep, dark woods of Washington State. The novel and her darkly comic story collection “Red Poppies: 7 Tales of Envy & Revenge” are available at the Kindle Store.
About the Book:
At the center of S.P. Miskowski’s novel-length fable are Ethel, Beverly, and Marietta, best friends stuck in the backwater of Skillute, Washington. Their neighbors and families are petty or poor or both; but when these townies warn the girls not to wander into Skillute’s dense forest, they mean it. Something evil lurks there. The girls are not convinced. They wander into the woods, and their mistake unleashes a malignant spirit that terrorizes Skillute for the next fifty years.
Hello Ghouls and Boils,
As many of you know, I have been working hard at the Inkwell Awards website and also preparing for our annual 13 Days of Halloween Celebration – beginning in just three short days – so please forgive me for the not-so-verbose introductions. Tonight Sean is going to discuss the frightfully creepy novel, “Knock Knock”. After reading his review I have added this book to the “must read when I have time” list. So I will know turn things over to our menacing Minion. Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
S.P. Miskowski‘s Knock Knock begins in the late 1960s. Three best friends, Beverly, Ethel, and Marietta, make a blood pact in the woods around their hometown of Skillute, WA [Editor’s Note: There is some interesting information here. You should also search for the Lewis and Clark expedition notes on this tribe.], to never suffer what they see as the horrors of menstruation and childbirth. These woods are believed by some to be haunted by a spirit called Miss Knocks, but Beverly assures a worried Ethel that this is just an urban legend. During this ritual, they discover a charred jawbone. As the years go by, the girls find that not only does their pact go unfulfilled, but they suffer much worse tragedies than they had expected.
Miskowski’s writing manages to shift between different viewpoints and still remain very cohesive. Each of the main characters and some of the supporting ones gets their own chapter (or chapters), and it offers a great deal of insight into each individual’s reactions to the horrific events they witness. Because of her upbringing, only Marietta truly understands the evil that she and her friends inadvertently released. Ethel refuses to acknowledge the horror in her own home. Beverly is convinced of the truth by Marietta, but her attempts to aid her friend only lead to her undoing. The three women evolve believably during the span of decades this book covers. Marriage and motherhood change them in a variety of ways, and they see each other less frequently. Unfortunately, circumstances prevent the trio from coming together to face the evil by which they’ve been benighted.
One of the author’s greatest skills is creating an atmosphere of horror. In some ways, her implications of terrifying things are even more disturbing than the actual depiction of them. Miskowski knows just when telling can be more effective than showing, and also knows when to not give too much detail. She knows how to build suspense, and build it well. Her description of the forces haunting our protagonists and its origins is haunting in a very subtle way.
Knock Knock is a well-crafted, understated novel that manages to combine the elements of supernatural horror and the stresses of growing up brilliantly. Miskowski’s writing is almost Lovecraftian in the sense that her dark forces are unseen, but nevertheless quite powerful and frightening. She shifts between different points of view in a way that does not distract the reader at all. I look forward to reading more of S.P Miskowski’s work in the future. I give this book a resounding 5 out of 5 tentacles.
Sean Levin – Minion (Reviewer/Reporter)