Author Lauren Coffin
Genre Fiction, Horror(esque)
Page Length 204
Publication Date 30 Jul 2013
Publisher Self Published
Read Date Feb 2021
Former professor Ansel Weston, retired from teaching due to an undisclosed illness, toys with the idea of unraveling his entire life. Meanwhile he works with his doctor, Henry Abbott, to begin conducting research of a morbid nature in their bizarre home.
The little girl who crawls under their porch knows nothing of any of this. She’s only looking for a safe place to hide. When Ansel notices her there and smiles rather than yell or order her out, she thinks she’s found it.
I have yet to read a Lauren Coffin story that isn’t wonderful, and this did not disappoint!
Coffin writes The Best characters. They’re always well developed, relatable, and easy to invest in. The girl in the crawlspace is sweet and wholesome, I immediately just wanted to protect her and wanted to see her safe. The interactions and dynamics between the three main characters (the girl, Henry, and Ansel) is really very well written, and the supportive characters are used just enough. There is some really nice subtle storytelling told through the dialogue.
With that said, the writing is a little clunky here and there, but not enough to take away from the story. (It’s an earlier Coffin story and her technical writing skill has grown since). I barely noticed the six uses of ‘off of’. A lot of backstory and seed setting comes in the form of journal entries weaved into the story, and I found this structure to be a little distracting – I was sometimes pulled out of the story. But this is me nitpicking because for the most part the plot kept me engaged and wanting to read on. There is enough mystery and intrigue to keep the reader asking questions and seeking answers.
Under has a weird gothic, suspenseful, light-hearted mish mash feel and yet the story still has a distinctive mood and it pulls all the right emotional strings. Whimsical in parts and packed with high tension stakes in others with an unsettling undertone ever present. Although I would say it’s not Coffin’s strongest work currently available, it is solid and stands strong on it’s own merits.
Reading this reminded me of some of my favourite stories (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, anemogram. by Rebecca Gransden, The Girl from the Other Side by Nagabe) as they share the similarities of a somewhat naive or vulnerable child being taken under the wing and protection of a kind and caring adult, and in turn the child cares for the adult, too. Under fits into that category quite nicely.
Lauren Coffin is a hidden gem of a writer and I highly recommend you check out her stories.
Anyway, I’m off to crawl into the walls. Until next time, peace and love!
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Jack CJ Stark
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