There are many grief holes.
There’s the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.
There’s another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.
And there are the geographical grief holes, the buildings that attract sorrow and loss and are filled with ghosts.
The book “The Grief hole” by Kaaron Warren follows the journey of young Theresa. Theresa has the ability to see ghosts, more precisely, ghosts that indicate how a person is going to die. The closer they are the closer a person is to death. After losing her boyfriend Ben, she starts working as a social worker.
But because of one particular client, she experiences a serious attack at work that leaves her client dead and her filled with grief and guilt. Consequently, she decides to leave her old home behind and temporarily move to work with her uncle.
While working with him she finds out that, a few years prior, her aunt and uncle tragically lost their daughter Amber to suicide. And while the parents where in the process of grieving, someone took away all of Amber’s art work. After Theresa hears of this she decides to help her aunt and uncle to retrieve Amber’s artwork, which is when she stumbles over famous singer Sol Evictus who is in possession of them. However, he is seemingly not willing to simply sell them to Theresa. So she goes on a mission to find a worthy trade during which she gets a disturbing look into Sol Evictus’ live and his one-of-a-kind art collection.
By taking on a topic that many can relate to, which is loss and grief, and combining it with supernatural and horror elements, Warren creates a story that can really draw in a broad readership. The interjection of song-lyrics as well as art works really allow the reader to fully immerse themselves into the story and follow along with the experiences that the protagonist Theresa is having.
Even though this book is to some level a supernatural ghost story, these supernatural elements are not the main source of horror in the story. The dreadful feeling stems much more from the art work and songs that are heavily focused on in the book. And not only the things that the art portrays but also the circumstances in which some of the paintings, photographs, etc. are produced leave the reader disturbed. Oddly enough, a lot of the times, the actual art pieces are not described in detail. But the author provides just enough description for the reader to produces their own horrifying and disgusting image in their head, which in my opinion is what makes the horror aspect of this novel so effective. Especially Amber’s art work might seem disturbing to the reader, as Sol Evictus instructed her to paint them in what Theresa gets to know as ‘Paradise Falls’ or the ‘Grief Hole’, a place where young teenagers go to commit suicide. The whole atmosphere that the author creates surrounding that place definitely contributes to the sense of fright and terror that the reader experiences.
Other that the horror-aspect the novel successfully touches on a number of different topics ranging from family issues over child loss and domestic abuse to friendship, guilt and obviously grief.
One of the, in my opinion, most interesting aspects of the book is how Theresa and her family react to their own different supernatural gifts and how their dynamics change and evolve. After some traumatic experiences in the past, Theresa’s mothers is constantly trying to ignore the ghosts she seems to be able to see. Theresa on the other hand, tries to use her power to change the fate of those around her by giving them subtle, or not so subtle, hints as to how they should change their lives, without actually telling them about her gift.
All in all, I would definitely say this book is worth a read. As someone who usually is not very interested in the genre of horror, I found myself surprised by how much I actually enjoyed reading the book.