2-in-1 Book Review: This Is Where We Talk Things Out & Magnum Opus by Caitlin Marceau

Title: This Is Where We Talk Things Out

Author: Caitlin Marceau

Genre: Horror Novella

Number of Pages: 114

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes

Batshit crazy mother. Isolated locale. Impending snowstorm. What could possibly go wrong?

This Is Where We Talk Things Out is an engaging psychological horror novella about a woman, Miller, drawn back into a toxic relationship with her mentally disturbed mother Sylvie. Miller’s girlfriend Florence warns her against getting sucked back into Sylvie’s drama, but she reluctantly decides to give her one last chance in a long series of last chances. But when Sylvie’s behavior gets more and more out-of-control, Miller finds herself fighting for her life.

The big reveal of this story was… not surprising. I didn’t mind, though. The predictability didn’t get in the way of me enjoying the book. I liked that even though Sylvie’s homophobic attitudes towards her daughter are touched upon there wasn’t a huge focus on that aspect of the story. The mother-daughter relationship felt very realistic and very uncomfortable. It only jumped the shark a bit and allowed the situation to become borderline cartoonish in the last 10 pages or so. Still, a fun read with some genuinely spooky and disturbing moments.

Title: Magnum Opus

Author: Caitlin Marceau

Genre: Horror Novelette

Number of Pages: 62

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

This was not gay-themed, which surprised me for some reason. I find it interesting how men are only on the periphery of Caitlin Marceau’s books (the whopping two I’ve read)- a cameo here, a cameo there. 99% percent of it focuses on female friendships and relationships. Magnum Opus is a creepy little story about female rivalry with a supernatural twist.

Charlotte is a writer who’s sick of playing second fiddle to her more successful friend, Kim. Charlotte is a ‘serious’ writer (in her own mind) and Kim writes fluffy, trivial romance novels. Peeved that their release dates fall on the same point in time (undermining Charlotte’s genius and making Kim the center of attention, as usual) Charlotte snaps, allowing Kim to drown in her own vomit Walter White-style after a night of binge-drinking.

I liked the idea behind this story. I think a lot of writers can relate to Charlotte’s frustration when their work gets overlooked. There was nothing sympathetic about her, mind you, but I think a lot of us can understand the sentiment. Poor Kim did nothing to deserve her awful fate except rouse the jealousy of her awful ‘friend.’ I felt like Charlotte’s character was a little bit inconsistent.

At first, she acts smug over Kim’s death and then she next day she seems tormented by guilt. It seemed like a little bit more time could have been spent fine-tuning her motivations and her behavior. Anyway, this isn’t anything special as far as horror stories go but I enjoyed it. Caitlin Marceau keeps up a steady pace and the imagery is wonderfully creepy without use of gratuitous violence. It will leave the reader wondering whether Kim’s ghost is real or just a manifestation of Charlotte’s guilt.

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