Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Stairwell’ by Dean Byrant organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I hope that you will check out both the author and the book, as well as the rest of the blogs involved in the tour.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
Frightful visions. An unknown manipulator. A force from beyond reason.
Brandon Chapman arrives home to a horrific scene. His wife, Stephanie, is exhibiting behaviour that he can only describe as that of someone possessed – yet he doesn’t even believe in the supernatural. He soon realises that it was nothing other than a frightful, haunting vision.
After discovering a dark secret about Stephanie, Brandon meets a strange figure with knowledge about his own life that no one could possibly know. As his visions become more frequent and terrifying, he begins to question his sanity.
Brandon must either side with this figure or his wife before his daughter comes to harm.
Alice Hamilton, a shy and quiet university student, meets handsome Niel Curtis whilst on a night out with friends. They very quickly fall for one another, but their happiness is short-lived when Niel ends up in a coma after a traffic accident.
Alice fears he may never wake up again and, unaware of the consequences, strikes a deal with a strange voice. When Niel awakes, his behaviour changes drastically, and Alice – like Brandon – becomes subject to nightmarish, violent visions.
Are Brandon and Alice caught in a never-ending nightmare?
I’m arguing the case for Halloween to be extended because The Stairwell is a spectacular read for this time of year – dark, terrifying and with enough tension to have you jumping at every bump in the night (it’s the cat, it’s just the cat…isn’t it?).
The Stairwell was a chilling read from start to finish, weaving together two very distinct timelines, characters and spine-chilling stories. The narrative alternating between Brandon whose chapters are set in the present, and Alice whose chapters are set in the past, dove into the darkness from the very start – and not just of the paranormal kind, because both the main characters were flawed and struggling in their own ways. Wonderfully human, and realised characters, with cracks in their defences to let the darkness seep in and take hold, and we get to watch that happen. I think that is part of the reason why this book has so much impact because both Alice and Brandon are real characters that we can’t help but emphasise with. We’re drawn into their lives from the beginning, and we’re right there when the visions and voices start, and as the nightmare unfolds, we can’t look away because we need to know what will happen to them.
I particularly loved how The Stairwell plays with the question of whether we – both characters and readers – can trust our own senses? Terrifying dreams and visions, blurring with reality, loved ones who seem to have been possessed and twisted beyond recognition. This blended with some genuinely atmospheric writing, with vivid, inescapable descriptions that really brought the nightmares to life, really breathed life into the horror lurking within the pages.
The writing was excellent, and I felt that the transitions between the characters were beautifully handled – although the cliff-hangers!! This was a gripping read from start to finish, and Bryant knew just how to keep you reading because you just had to find out what happened next. The two storylines were well balanced, and the voices in each were unique and distinct, so you were never in doubt of where you were. While the pacing was spot on, although I would say that the very beginning of the relationship between Alice and Nial was the only place where the pacing slipped a little, and the development felt a little rushed. However, this evened out very quickly, and their relationship and what it led to were some of my favourite parts of the book. And the atmosphere and tension were drawn to knifepoint with exceptional skill, as these two separate storylines were wound around one another
The Stairwell was an intricately woven, goosebump raising read, and exactly the kind of horror that I love reading, the kind that leaves you double-checking doors and leaving the light on at night. There were plenty of twists and turns, and that ending was both perfect – and chilling – and left me wanting more from this author. I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking for a horror thriller, with that dash of the supernatural that will send tingles down your spine, and leave you wary of the dark.
About the Author:
Dean has always loved writing, ever since his primary school teacher wrote “another cracker from the pen of Dean Bryant” on his English homework. He loves writing horror and dark thrillers as they allow him to be as imaginative as possible. He won a nation-wide poetry competition when he was 11 and went on to never write another poem.
He’s a huge fan of the classic horror authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with Midnight being his favourite book of all time. He studied Psychology at university which made him the friend everyone goes to for advice.
Dean lives in London with his partner of ten years, who also doubles as a beta-reader and critic. He is a type 1 diabetic, which hasn’t stopped him eating cake, he just has to do a lot of mental math first.
The Stairwell – Dean Bryant (Published by Dark Stroke Books on 30th October 2020 in paperback and digital formats) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.