EDENVILLE by Sam Rebelein

Titan Books. p/b. £9.99.

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.

Cam and Quinn live in an apartment that is allegedly haunted, though the two of them have seen little evidence of that so far, which is not helping Cam to get his horror novel written. No words are making it onto the page – a fact that Quinn is well aware of, despite the hours Cam spends ‘writing’ while she works at the bar or sits alone with only her music for company.

Cam was not getting much written. Not until the nightmare, that is. Then the words flowed. The words became a novel, which became a talking point, which led to a job offer in the creative writing department of a college. Never mind that he hasn’t written anything since. This is his chance to be somebody.

Quinn has not returned to Renfield since the day Celeste disappeared, so of course, the first teaching post Cam gets offered would be there, and while he plays at being Mr Popular in their new town (even though she knows he has not written a word since they arrived), she has little to do but explore the local area and secretly tries to find out once and for all just what happened to her friend. 

Edenville is a sci-fi horror mash-up that slowly unveils the strange truths behind Renfield’s façade, Celeste’s disappearance and Cam’s novel, The Shattered Man, which, as it turns out, is not so much a unique fictional idea but a nightmarish re-telling of monstrous, supernatural powers and a secret society. Renfield hides more than one dark and objectionable secret behind its borders.

The concept of the story and the living nightmare that Quinn and Cam find themselves in feels like a unique touch here, as do the old-school sci-fi elements – you can imagine having seen this book as a black-and-white screen adaptation in cinema history past. Quinn provides much-needed narrative breadth beyond Cam and his struggles, and her life pre and post-Renfield (along with her realistic and cynical opinions) works as a brilliant framing device. It is Quinn the reader ends up rooting for, and it is Quinn that provides some much-needed, albeit darkly comical, moments to help break up the more disturbing aspects of the story. 

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