The genre of haunted house horror is long established, and it seems impossible to do anything drastically new to it. It is refreshing therefore when a writer comes along who sticks to all the haunted house cliches while still making the reading experience entirely new and exciting.
F.R. Tallis is a clinical psychologist and in ‘The Voices’ it shows. His characters have such depth that you feel you know them as well as any of your close friends. It is a snapshot in time, of the turn of a century where the 70’s gave way to the punk years of the 80’s and the protagonist, Christopher, struggles to find his place as a ‘legitimate’ musician in an era where his style of music is fast becoming outdated. His wife Laura tries to come to terms with her femininity as feminism rises to a head in the 80’s and she learns to cope with motherhood and some of the experiences that came with being a model in the 70’s.
The characters in ‘The Voices’ are deeply flawed, and their psychology is looked at in depth. Because if this, there is some ambiguity as to whether the supernatural events are real or just an expression of the characters inner psychosis. This ambiguity only serves to make the book even more frightening. While my personal preference is usually to have a more clear resolution, in this case, the ambiguity just worked as it left you looking over certain plot points and reassessing their meaning; it’s the kind of book I wanted to read again straight away to grasp the subtle nuances I may have missed.
While ‘The Voices’ is not the scariest book I’ve read recently, it certainly was one of the most involving. Leaving the horror elements open to interpretation made me do some soul searching, and left me wondering what path I would take in a similar situation. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good haunted house tale, or even just enjoys a good psychological thriller. It really was a great read.