I’ve read several of Nathan Robinson’s short stories, including his excellent collection Devil Let Me Go and I’ve generally enjoyed them, but Starers is the first substantial piece of his I’ve encountered. And I was impressed.
He starts by introducing us to a normal family: a married couple, their teenage daughter and his drunken brother. He doesn’t rush the first part of the book, but it doesn’t drag – we get involved and interested in the kind of problems that any family might encounter. The relationships are handled sensitively and I got a feel very quickly for the family dynamic.
The first strange thing we see is an old man standing at a bus stop, then a neighbour standing naked in her garden just staring at the family’s house. More people join the crowd and nobody does anything – they just stand there and stare. And it’s the creepiest and most effective thing I’ve read this year.
The build of tension and the strain on the already fragile familial relationships are beautifully portrayed, and the implied, non-specific threat of the ever-growing horde of starers makes for a claustrophobic and volatile atmosphere, which inevitably escalates.
I’m reluctant to tell you more for fear of spoiling your enjoyment if you read it, but a crowd of people standing watching a house is only the appetizer – much more stuff happens as the story progresses.
This is self-published, and there are a few small slips in grammar or style, but nothing that will stop you having a great time with this book. I hope that one day soon Mr. Robinson can land a proper publishing deal and get a professional editor to work with to give his work that final polish. As it stands though, it’s a more satisfying and certainly a scarier book than several things I’ve received from mainstream publishing houses in the last few months.