Every story has its beginning and end. But some stories won’t let go. Some stories dig their claws into you. They infect your dreams. They carve out a residence in your mind. They become passengers . . .
Ones that never leave.
Within this collection of short stories by esteemed horror author The Behrg you will discover a haunted house that is not quite what it seems. A trophy collector who prefers living statues to cold ones. A truck driver who, with one good deed, finds more than he bargained for. And a world where happiness can no longer be felt.
Light and darkness. Hope and despair. Depravities and humanity. These passengers and more await. And they’ve been sharpening their claws to greet you.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Passengers You Cannot See!
I first learned of the author named Behrg through Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek (ICYMI). Drew had read and reviewed The Behrg’s short story One Star and highly recommended it so of course I – and my newly found love for short stories – had to check that out. Drew was absolutely right, it was a hell yeah short story. I promptly signed up for The Behrg’s newsletter, was gifted a few other short stories and a while later I got the notification that his short story collection The Passengers You Cannot See was up for request on NetGalley. Despite my self-imposed NetGalley ban I headed over to NetGalley right away, and I’m very happy that I did, because this is one of my favourite collections this year, if not ever.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am very difficult to please when it comes to short story collections and anthologies. It is very rare for me to love each and every story in a collection, but I loved each and every story in this one. I even loved the author’s notes on the stories, in which he explains how they came about. These are very personal, and I admire and am very thankful for the openness and frankness with which the author addresses his own mental health issues.
These stories all have three things in common:
1. Despite the fact that all but one of the stories are quite short, the author manages to make them twisty and surprising but in a manner that makes total sense.
2. All the stories have at least two layers. You can take them at face value, read what is there and nothing more, and they are highly entertaining that way. You can also look a bit further, at what’s just below the surface. If you look at them that way you notice that mental illness in all its shapes and sizes is the general underlying theme. The author’s notes help you to see this other meaning because it’s more obvious in some stories than others.
3. All of these stories are scary. Some I’d qualify as thrillers, others veer more into the horror genre. There’s some dystopia and some drama, and one that might even qualify as a love story if you really try. But all of them are scary in their own unique way, because though fiction they are real, or because they hit close to home, or because they remind us that we are fragile, or because they’re a reminder of the tough balancing act each and every one of us is performing each and every day.
Despite loving all the stories, I still have favourites. One Star is definitely still one of them. This story is about a blogger who has written a one-star review of a book and the author of the book read it and committed suicide. The blogger is left dealing with the aftermath of that. It’s about the price of fame and about appearances and even though I knew what was coming this second time around, I was still astounded at the cleverness of it all.
Another favourite is Every House Is Haunted. It’s just such an awesome story, starts out really creepy, then the revelation comes, taking me completely by surprise, I had NOT seen that shit coming, maybe you’re smarter or quicker than I am and you’ll figure it out but I sure as hell didn’t, and it’s a premier example of the tale that sets you on edge because you feel something is not quite right but you can’t put your finger on it, until the finale gives you the shock and the relief you’ve been waiting for.
The long and short of it is: if you enjoy short stories, please do yourself a favour and give this one a whirl. They are well-written and imaginative, and they make for a great collection!
Many thanks to Pricks Like Thorn Media and NetGalley for the eARC! All my opinions are my own.