Written by: Drake Morgan
Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi is a book that needs a new title. Someone recommended it and I paused. Um… it’s called what? After passing the title page, I settled in and what I found was an intriguing tale of death, guilt, mystery, and unanswered questions.
Malfi’s tale focuses on an author struggling with guilt. Years earlier, his brother accidentally drowned and it’s been a psychological trauma for years. Enter a new house and a fresh start. Strange events begin to trigger memories of his brother’s death and he begins to investigate the history of the house. Terror mounts as our protagonist, Travis Glasgow, unravels dark secrets from both within the house and within his own mind.
This is horror in the true Gothic sense. There is no bloodshed, violence, or gore. Instead, we have this growing unease that something is just wrong. Malfi’s vivid descriptions make the hair stand on the back of your neck. You begin to fear the shadows in your own mind and those just out of sight in the hallway. He creates a well-balanced narrative that keeps the reader on that fine line of fear. By chapter seventeen, when Travis describes his nightmare about the closing walls, we’re right there with him, sweating and shaking all the while.
I am not usually a fan of first person narrative, but in this case it was critical to the tale. We had to feel the constant unreliability of our narrator. Is he insane? Has the guilt driven him mad? Is the house haunted? These are age-old questions reminiscent of “Turn of the Screw” and Malfi does an excellent job of bringing them alive for the modern reader. Dark, eerie, and delightful.
You can order Floating Staircase here – it’s free for kindle right now!