Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Inside the Mirrors

If you aren't terrified now don't worry, you will be. defines Eisoptrophobia as "a fear of mirrors" or of "seeing oneself in a mirror;" so much so that people who suffer from eisoptrophobia cannot look at themselves in the mirror without feeling some type of anxiety or dread. For some suffers, their phobias are derived from personal feelings about self-image. For others their phobias stem from fears of bad omens and superstitions.

Before I read Jason Davis' Inside the Mirrors, I was a little hesitant to stare for too long into a TV that was turned off or look into a bathroom mirror because of what I thought I might see. Blame it on too many late night horror movies marathons and novels right before bed. As much as I love the scary stuff, it doesn't necessarily love me, especially when it's late and time to turn in for the night.

Having finished this novel it's going to be a while before I can look into a mirror without feeling like there's something staring back. Maybe my paranoia's not quite at the level of eisoptrophobia, but I'd say it's probably pretty close.

Once a desk junkie, Chicago cop Rob Alletto is back on the streets training rookie, Tommy. When a call comes in for backup during an ambush at a meth lab, Rob and Tommy respond. Tommy is excited to take the call but Rob on the other hand is terrified. His suspicions are correct when the suspects open fire on the police and a few of them try setting the lab on fire. The bad guys are trapped in the room with the fire and can't get out. Rob listens to their screams as he tries to kick the door in to save them, but ultimately his age and the rapidly growing fire gets the better of him and he blacks out.

Rob awakens in the hospital, still wrapped up in his chilling nightmare. He's released not too long after, almost recovered except for his damaged back and the nightmares that haunt his dreams.

Considering the neighborhood unsafe for his son, Jake, and his wife, Robyn, Rob packs up his family and moves them to the small midwestern town of Standard. Life in the small town is an adjustment for the Allettos.  Rob finds out that the job he was offered is only part-time, and given that they are a one income household, the Allettos must rely on their savings to survive. They can't sell their house for the asking price back in Chicago and Robyn may have to get a job to keep the family afloat in the struggling economy. Things take an even stranger turn once they get settled into their new house.

Rob starts noticing odd things happening in the house: the fact that the doors sometimes open on their own, or the obscure shapes that he sees in his peripheral vision. Even worse is the strange face staring back at him in the mirror. He's in denial at first, but Rob begins to realize that there is something evil inhabiting the town and one by one residents start to go missing. It's only a matter of time before Rob and his family are next.

The Allettos were easy to relate to; just your average middle class family trying to survive in spite of the failing economy. Rob 's determination to keep his family and the town safe, despite his failing back and recent stint in the hospital, felt very realistic without the over-the-top hero vibe that many horror and urban fantasy novels are known for.

Davis also does a good job of making sure all of the pieces of the story come full circle at the end, leaving nothing unexplained or unaccounted for.

I just wish the final novel was edited a lot more closely, otherwise I would have honestly given it five stars. It's been a while since I've read a good horror novel that makes me second guess just whether or not it's safe to close my eyes when my head hits the pillow. 

Inside the Mirrors is worth a read and definitely worth the subconscious mirror fear that's sure to follow. 

Rating 4/5

Inside the Mirrors is now avaliable as an e-book from or in paperback from Createspace.


The plot-line was solid and quickly drew me in. You can always tell if a horror novel lives up to what it claims if you can't stop thinking about it days after you've finished reading. Inside the Mirrors is the kind of horror story that would make a wonderful movie. It's horror in its purest form and relies on a serious creepiness factor, restless spirits, and good old fashioned psychological turmoil to scare the crap out of you. It's the kind of story that really gets under your skin and once it's there, it's hard to forget.


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