Written by: Chad Lutzke
Dan Padavona barely gave his new readers a month to read his debut novel, Storberry, before he released a double dose of horror in the form of two short stories. His latest e-book, The Island, starts with isolation and ends with the destruction of human life at the hands of an unexpected killer.
The first story is centered around a man and his son who struggle to survive an attack from melon-sized arachnids while newly stranded on an island. I will admit to getting the “heebie jeebies” a few times later that night well after reading the story. With spiders on the mind, it made the simple task of reaching into a dark cupboard bring to mind the potential for attack from any eight-legged creatures hiding in the shadows.
Story number two takes place in the cold autumn of a college campus with students falling prey to a string of mysterious deaths. Where this story lacked the suspense that the opener contained, it made up for atmospherically, and ultimately, psychologically. I’ll stop there so I don’t give too much away.
Though I liked the way these stories read over Storberry (which could have something to do with one of them being written in first person, which flows nicely), the endings left me a bit unsatisfied; however, I should note that when it comes to short fiction, I’m a rather selective reader with high expectations. For example, I love King’s novels but think most of his short fiction is nothing but filler. Some people appreciate the whole ride, but I’m in it for the ending. I like the Hitchcockian endings, the thinkers, the stunners. I feel that the stories in Padavona’s book would appeal more toward the “riders.”
Padavona’s language has clearly ripened between his two releases, and I have a very strong feeling Dan will one day give birth to an idea that, when mixed with his maturing prose, will make pure literary gold, finding itself among many a bookshelf.