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The Beast You Are: Stories


The Beast You Are: Stories

Paul Tremblay has always had a way with words, and reading one of his novels becomes a unique and memorable experience. He has been riding high on the popularity of THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, which was made into a terrific film from director M. Night Shyamalan and retitled Knock at the Cabin.

Tremblay’s new release is THE BEAST YOU ARE, which is a collection of 14 short stories and a novella. Some of these pieces are extremely short (as in just two pages), but collectively they form something that is quite interesting. Each has its own distinct DNA, which makes for a book that is never dull and often surprising and awe-inspiring.

I will now highlight six tales that had the most impact on me.

"THE BEAST YOU ARE is the embodiment of Tremblay’s eclectic brand of fiction. It is unlike any horror collection that I have read and will leave some indelible memories."

Ice Cold Lemonade 25¢ Haunted House Tour: 1 Per Person”: This opening piece is significantly creepy and a great place to start. Paul thinks back to his middle-school days when his mom drops off a box from his youth that includes items showing off his love of horror. Among them is a hand-drawn picture of a ghost that he has not seen in decades and still remains just as disturbing as when he first saw it.

Readers are then taken back to the 1980s. Paul stops by the home of his childhood crush, Kelly. Instead of hawking lemonade, Kelly and her little sister are inviting customers in to see their “haunted house.” It’s not particularly scary, outside of the old relative locked in the attic. But he remembers stealing a piece of artwork from Kelly’s bedroom --- a crude sketch of a ghost that is so much more than just an example of creativity and continues to haunt him.

“I Know You’re There”: Silas and his sister, Gwen, used to play hide and seek growing up. Silas enjoyed freaking out Gwen by playing dead once she found him. In the present day, while Silas is now playing the same game with Gwen’s daughter, Victoria, he is taken back to an incident that became a personal folk tale of horror that he has never been able to shake.

“The Postal Zone: The Possession Edition”: This story is told via a blog written by Karen Brissette, a staff writer for Fangoria magazine. Karen gives her take on the popular six-episode drama “Possession,” which is based on a real supernatural tragedy. The beauty and chills here are in the form of the blog responses --- especially the ones coming from the user known simply as “M,” who seems to know a lot about this subject matter and has some creepy ideas.

“House of Windows”: This surreal tale is about an unexplained house filled with large windows instead of outer walls that pop up suddenly next to the large town library. The people who witness this structure cannot explain how it arrived there or why it seems to be changing shape every time someone looks at it.

“The Last Conversation”: This is my favorite story in the collection, and it reminds me of a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone” entitled “Eye of the Beholder.” A man wakes up in a hospital bed, but we never truly “see” him or learn his real name. He is being cared for by a woman named Anne. Each day or numerical chapter entry provides us with a little more of the puzzle. It ends up being a post-pandemic shocker that will send appropriate chills down your spine and will be hard to forget.

“The Beast You Are”: The title novella, which spans nearly half of the book, is a fantasy/horror epic written and told in a free-verse manner that calls to mind both “Beowulf” and some of the many parables contained within THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It involves a Hunger Games-like ritual in which three animal citizens of a town are offered up to the evil monster, Awn, who devours one of them in sacrifice. We then see what goes through the minds of the survivors before the next sadistic event and how they come to terms and deal with it. It is a mind-over-matter sort of challenge that the characters are faced with, and the construct of the story is just as interesting as what is being said here.

Tremblay also references Richard Adams’ WATERSHIP DOWN when discussing “The Beast You Are” in the Notes provided at the end of the book. This section gives readers the opportunity to go directly inside the mind of this outstanding author as he was creating each of these tales. It is almost as much fun as experiencing them.

THE BEAST YOU ARE is the embodiment of Tremblay’s eclectic brand of fiction. It is unlike any horror collection that I have read and will leave some indelible memories.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 15, 2023

The Beast You Are: Stories
by Paul Tremblay