Thursday, December 20, 2012

REVIEW: Yorick / Vlad Vaslyn

TITLE: Yorick (novella)
AUTHOR: Vlad Vaslyn
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)

Recommended for readers seeking chilling horror stories to read in the dark.


Yorick is a creepy, chilling novella, the kind of story you would tell in the dark on Halloween to scare your friends.

Yorick has plenty of suspense that keeps the plot moving forward, especially in the second half.

Third person omniscient. The majority of the story is told from the third person point of view of Roberta, but every so often the narrator shows what’s going through the minds of the other characters.

Poor old Roberta has hit rock bottom. Her husband died years ago, she hasn’t seen her daughter in years, and she’s even had to put down her beloved cat. Alone and miserable, she wallows in despair and heads to a nearby riverbank. But before she can throw herself in, she unearths a skull in the mud, a skull that speaks to her, whispering words into her mind. Glad to once again have a companion, Roberta cherishes the skull, whom she names Yorick, and does whatever she must to keep him happy.

Yorick is an unsettling horror novella that chronicles Roberta’s descent into utter madness. Written with rich, gruesome descriptions, it’s the kind of story you read to for chills and thrills. Vaslyn tells the story mostly from Roberta’s point of view but keeps her at arm’s length, giving the reader a sense of an omniscient narrator with a voice of his own, a voice that’s not afraid to paint vivid images. For instance, here is the passage in which Roberta first notices the skull: “The river drew closer in little fits and starts, and as she neared it, she noticed a funny little dome poking out of the grass near the shore, a pimple in a patch of thinning hair.”

Fans of Shakespeare will no doubt notice that Yorick was also the name of the deceased jester Hamlet speaks to in his famed skull speech: “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest… Where are your gibes now?” Like Hamlet, Roberta, too, talks to the dead and pities him for the fact that he can no longer do the things he used to. And because she sees Yorick as her friend, Roberta will do whatever it takes to make the unfortunate skull whole again.

Absurd as Roberta seems, one cannot help feeling bad for her and understanding her motivations, even as she becomes increasingly insane. Watching her spiral deeper and deeper into psychosis is disturbing yet entertaining, somewhat reminiscent of reading the dark tales of Edgar Allen Poe. Creepy in all the right ways, Yorick is a highly enjoyable tale of grief, loneliness, and horrifying madness.

There are a teeny, tiny, barely perceptible handful of errors, so few I feel bad mentioning them.

This novella is divided into chapters, and there is a table of contents.

This book is a horror story, and so some readers may find parts of it disturbing.

Vlad Vaslyn resides in Lowell, Massachusetts with his wife, Jordana. He has an Associates Degree in Journalism from Middlesex Community College and worked as a freelance writer for a few years before going back to school. He is currently a member of the National Honor Society at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he studies History and English. His favorite authors include Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Richard Adams, William Golding, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert Jordan.

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