Horror comes in many forms, whether supernatural or through the cruelty of human beings. It takes a great deal of talent to combine several elements of horror into a cohesive story, and still more to make that story resonate and disturb at the reader’s core level. Erik Tomblin has accomplished this difficult task with his novella, Riverside Blues.
Tomblin’s strengths lie in his characterizations and his descriptions. His attention to detail in describing the overgrown trail and the river paints a vivid picture, without overwhelming the reader with a barrage of imagery. In Gordon, the reader finds someone with whom they can easily sympathize as they follow his trail from remorse to joy to heated vengeance. Earl is similarly well developed, with the reader seeing him as he truly is and following his thought process down every dark hole. Even Lily comes across as warm and real, even when cramming her mouth with mud as she struggles to remember who she is and what happened to her.
It is the vast range of emotions that Tomblin portrays in this work that sucks the reader in and gives the book such punch. Within a span of a few pages, readers are taken from the darkest pits of despair to great heights of joy. They are brought from revulsion to tenderness in the space of a few sentences. Combined with smooth prose and well-crafted plot lines, Riverside Blues is a strong entry into the horror genre that will also be loved by those who enjoy romance and mystery.
If there is any fault to be found in this piece, it is with the length. While the pacing and flow are even, Tomblin could easily have lengthened this out into a full-length novel and still kept the reader’s attention. However, in brevity lies a very tight and well-formed story that should not be diminished by it’s length.
Erik Tomblin has written a story that defies conventional description. One part ghost story, one part love story, and one part tale of deceit and revenge, Riverside Blues is a well written and compelling novella worthy of anyone’s time.
by Erik Tomblin
Earthling Publications, 2005
4 out of 5