Written by: Drake Morgan
Ghost stories are making a comeback and I’m glad to see it. They are often heavier on the suspense and creepiness rather than the gore and bloodshed sort of horror. Getting Thin by Kaiya Hart is the story of an outsider who thinks she has finally found a place in the world. Eva is the model of the girl with no friends. Overweight, reads too much, and ponders the world too much, she meets a somewhat kindred soul in Roxy. Although personality-wise they could not be more different, they forge a bond over poetry and books. Roxy is brutally murdered however, and that changes everything.
Hart has a lovely way with words. Phrases such as “they killed her… out of fear for their own skins” and “the air seemed to shimmer with her unspoken, unseen threat” transport the reader into a kaleidoscope of vivid madness. We plummet into Eva’s descent; holding our breath all the way. This is a tale of darkness, insanity, pain, and anguish. Shattered friendship amidst the last fragments of hope tear at Eva’s soul. The story unfolds in small pieces through an ongoing dialogue with the investigating detective. Each chapter becomes more and more painful as the details of the crime and of the subsequent loss emerge. The fragmented narrative is challenging, but it becomes a powerful tool in conveying Eva’s slippery grasp of reality. This is not a novel of easy answers and quick summations. Hart pushes us into Eva’s madness and insanity is not a comfortable ride.
I’m torn as to the use of first person narrative. I read portions of the story again, and while the first person worked in certain places, it did not in others. Like most first person, Eva was a bit too omniscient at times although she is largely the unreliable narrator necessary in the construct of insanity. The characters leaned too close to stereotype for me as well. Are all outcast young girls overweight and entirely without friends? It seemed a bit extreme and the story could have succeeded just as well with more complexity to the girls.
In the ever-growing word of gore horror, Hart’s story is a breath of fresh air. In spite of its flaws, it’s refreshing to see female protagonists, psychological horror, and good old-fashioned, quality story-telling. Hart returns to the tradition of the uncertain narrative. What is reality? What has really happened here? This is a tale best read with the lights on.
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