Author – Jesse Nolan Bailey
Pages – 133
Format – eBook
The One Sentence Review
This thought provoking novella proves two things: that humans are just as scary as monsters and that you don’t have to write an epic to leave a lasting impression on a reader.
First of all, Thankyou to Jesse Nolan Bailey and Storytellers on Tour for providing this eBook in exchange for a review. I was part of the cover reveal blitz for this book and was really intrigued. With a busy schedule the shorter length was ideal to fit this read in, and I’m glad I did.
Amethyst is quite a weird, creepy story that manages to achieve a lot within a short amount of space. It feels like there are possible inspirations from memorable thrillers & horror movies but with Jesse’s own unique ideas. Whether or not these parallels are intentional, the blend of different horror aspects give the book a depth that feels really satisfying.
There are one or two particular memorable events that stand out and it’s difficult to touch on them without spoilers, but one particular scene felt like it came out of nowhere and left me open mouthed. The shock value was really well done, both the event itself and the reaction of the characters. It was a real spine chilling and uncomfortable moment and certainly stuck with me.
As well as successful techniques for giving us the creepy factor, Jesse also interweaves mystery, science fantasy and friendship elements through the story which further gives it a well rounded feel. His writing style flows nicely, too. Combined, this made Amethyst an easy read whilst still giving plenty to think about.
The story takes place in an isolated village, where our main character, Rashell has brought in a man called Derrik to help investigate the disappearance of her brother. And this village really don’t like outsiders.
The head of the Village, Kerr is a very sinister character, basically a zealot – and he proves that humans can be just as scary as monsters, if not moreso.
I’m not sure we spent enough time with any of the characters to care a lot about them, or for any of them to become a new favourite of the genre and it was more a case of the characters being a device to reveal the goings on in the village, so if you like in depth characterisation as your #1 it might not be your perfect read.
While I’m on characters, I just want to make a quick mention about how well Jesse introduces one of the characters as trans. I sympathise with the queer experience when it comes to fantasy for two reasons. Firstly, there is still only a little representation or normalising these identities within popular adult fantasy.
Secondly, when there is representation these books are often put into a genre of their own, almost like it’s either normal adult fantasy or LGBTQ fantasy. The benefit of this I suppose is that people looking for representation can find it, but it also closes off a section of the market and the audience to some degree.
What I love here is that Jesse approaches the identity of the character with sensitivity and respect but also makes it feel natural and doesn’t define the character by their identity, or that this should be the most interesting thing about the character. I’m aware YA books have done this many times over but it’s not something you see for adult books as often and Jesse deserves applause for the way he handles it.
If you’re looking for a shorter read that will still grab you, startle you and keep you interested, picking up Amethyst wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Thanks for reading.
About the Author
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel, THE JEALOUSY OF JALICE, and his shorter fiction, AMETHYST, released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats and two mini-aussies.
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