Frightful visions. An unknown manipulator. A force from beyond reason.

Brandon Chapman arrives home to a horrific scene. His wife, Stephanie, is exhibiting behaviour that he can only describe as that of someone possessed – yet he doesn’t even believe in the supernatural. He soon realises that it was nothing other than a frightful, haunting vision.

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After discovering a dark secret about Stephanie, Brandon meets a strange figure with knowledge about his own life that no one could possibly know. As his visions become more frequent and terrifying, he begins to question his sanity.

Brandon must either side with this figure or his wife before his daughter comes to harm.

Alice Hamilton, a shy and quiet university student, meets handsome Niel Curtis whilst on a night out with friends. They very quickly fall for one another, but their happiness is short-lived when Niel ends up in a coma after a traffic accident.

Alice fears he may never wake up again and, unaware of the consequences, strikes a deal with a strange voice. When Niel awakes, his behaviour changes drastically, and Alice – like Brandon – becomes subject to nightmarish, violent visions.

Are Brandon and Alice caught in a never-ending nightmare?

My Review

I’m not a true horror fan and I’ve never read Stephen King (though I’ve seen a few of the films based on the novels), but I have read James Herbert, plus the classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. So when I say I’m not a ‘horror’ fan I really mean slasher-type horror. I do like a bit of supernatural haunting however and add to that a smattering of Faustus selling his soul to the devil and I’m straight in there.

The Stairwell is a homage (in my humble opinion) to the good old horror stories such as The Omen and The Exorcist with a bit of Drag Me To Hell thrown in for good measure. Nothing like a bit of demonic possession!

But on to the story! Brandon was brought up in care, having been adopted as a baby. After a series of failed foster homes, he finally finds happiness with Stephanie, they marry and have a beautiful daughter Lily. All is going reasonably well until Brandon starts having visions – or rather nightmares – that involve his wife killing Lily. Brandon will do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to make them stop.

In the meantime Alice is a quiet, shy, university student who meets a gorgeous guy named Niel and they fall instantly in love. Then Niel has a terrible accident, leaving him in a coma and Alice promises to do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to turn the clock back.

Both Alice and Brandon are plagued by terrible visions – visions of gruesome murders, eyes with black veins and no pupils, tentacles reaching out and black gunge expelling like vomit from screaming mouths. And voices in their head that tell them what awful things they must or must not do in order to survive and protect their loved ones. But how much of it is real and how much is a figment of their own imagination? We know Brandon likes a drop of gin or ten but why poor Alice? Who is going to believe her if she tells them about that terrible night and the promise she made?

I noticed that one review on Goodreads (thanks Charlie Tyler) said this book is so ‘super-scary’ it’s ‘not for the timid and certainly not to be read before bedtime’. I disagree. What better time to read than under the covers with the full moon shining through the curtains, making shadows on the walls, while wolves howl in the dark forest….. OK. I exaggerate. Read it at bedtime at your peril, but not if you live alone and there’s a thunderstorm etc. You get the picture.

I have to admit that I’m not easily terrified by supernatural goings on, but I am repulsed by anything too gross and gruesome (but you still have to read on don’t you). This book has both these things in spadefuls and I enjoyed every minute!

Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours

About the Author

Dean has always loved writing, ever since his primary school teacher wrote “another cracker from the pen of Dean Bryant” on his English homework. He loves writing horror and dark thrillers as they allow him to be as imaginative as possible. He won a nation-wide poetry competition when he was 11 and went on to never write another poem.

He’s a huge fan of the classic horror authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with Midnight being his favourite book of all time. He studied Psychology at university which made him the friend everyone goes to for advice.

Dean lives in London with his partner of ten years, who also doubles as a beta-reader and critic. He is a type 1 diabetic, which hasn’t stopped him eating cake, he just has to do a lot of mental math first.

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1 Comment on “The Stairwell by Dean Bryant

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