Welcome to Fears For Ears, a new series at Wolfbane Blooms dedicated to reviewing the best of audio horror.
S.L. Grey is actually a combination of two authors: Louis Greenberg and Sarah Lotz. The book therefore follows two characters, the chapters alternating perspective between the two.
Dan is a young, angsty kid who works in a shopping mall bookstore and absolutely detests it. The only relief he gets from his day is when he sneaks off to smoke a cigarette and fantasize about his attractive co-worker. Conversely there is Rhoda, a dark skinned junkie who, although tasked with babysitting for the day, decides to head off with the child to the mall to score some coke. This is where the two meet.
Rhoda’s charge runs off and gets lost. She frantically searches the mall until she is taken in by security guards, whom dismiss her claims based on her appearance. Out of options, Rhoda kidnaps Dan by knifepoint and tasks him with helping her find the child.
The search leads them through a seldom used door, leading into an unfinished part of the mall, the construction having been halted long ago. As they traverse this path, they begin getting mysterious and threatening text messages, despite having no service. The messages refer to a game they must play, and an unseen monster they must avoid.
The journey takes them deeper and deeper, finding tunnels and staircases that lead them down deeper than seems possible. They must climb over piles of massacred mannequins, swim through sewage filled hallways, and escape a horde of blind mole-people who control an underground parking lot. All the while, a giant black mass follows, chomping at their heels and letting out blood curdling roars.
Once they emerge back at the mall, the real nightmare begins. Is this the same mall they left hours before? Why are all the shoppers suddenly so full of silicone and obsessed with cosmetic surgeries? Why are the store employees all chained to their counters? And what are the chunks of meat that the food court is selling to everyone?
The pair must find the child, and perhaps the secret behind the newfound obsession with ‘consuming satisfactorily’ before death.
The imagery in this debut novel is fantastic, and the start of a wonderfully weird and grotesque trilogy. The authors write together very cohesively and use a setting as odd as a shopping mall to shine a light on the horrors of apartheid.
Worth a listen for sure, and it is available on Audible.