Author: Stephanie Ellis
From the back: The house was his, an unwanted and unwelcome inheritance. As a child, Tyler Vitrum spent many miserable hours beneath its roof, hating his grandfather and the man’s housekeeper, Mrs. Waites. His only escape during those visits had been via the impossible bottles created by his granddad; bottles holding miniature worlds in which he could lose himself for hours. Sometimes however, he sensed something else living in the house and in the bottles and when he returned home, he took the nightmares with him.Now an adult, Tyler decides one last visit can do no harm, allow him to finally shake off his nightmares. The bottles however, are waiting—and so is Mrs. Waites. As both house and bottles gradually yield up their secrets, it is made clear to Tyler what is expected of him and what will happen should he fail. Is Tyler master or servant of the house?
The gist: It seems fitting that as Women in Horror month kicks off I’ve just finished reading this little horror gem. Ellis brings us modern-day gothic horror in her chilling novella, Bottled. She builds up the tension and creeps up on you with a variety of spooky scenes to make your skin crawl. Set in a house that is as much a main character as the people, she artfully builds up a sense of hopelessness and claustrophobia. The family dynamics, and the modern-day pressures working against Tyler serve to enhance the surreal feeling of stepping into an older, ancient world when he enters the house.
Bottled has a real sense of place – the house and the gardens have an identity that grows throughout the story, gradually taking control and taking over. It’s a perfect book to get out the blankets and hunker down with during a long winter night.
Plus, eeewwwww, bugs. You’ll see.
Favourite line: What held him was the crushing weight of guilt he felt at the recollection of his father’s voice, his face beneath the mist of the bottle.
Read if: You want a bite-sized horror, chilling you with a healthy dose of modern-day gothic creepiness.
Read with: A blanket and a bottle of wine. Wait, scratch the bottle, stick to a glass. Keep all bottles at a safe distance.
Get it: Bottled by Stephanie Ellis
Tamara writes mainly dark, surreal tales with a touch of science fiction. Her novel Grind Spark was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014.
“an exhilarating Ultra HD ride into a near, pre-apocalyptic future”