The Policy – Bentley Little *+

There’s a fine line in the horror genre, one that separates a good story from a not-quite-right story. This novel crosses that line.

The thing is, Little has one of those imaginations that know no bounds. This makes for some great stories, but they are not for the faint of heart. This one definitely is not for anyone with a soft spot for children.

And still, it’s well done. The premise is completely believable (at first): one of those nightmare scenarios that people actually have with insurance companies now and then. But this quickly escalates beyond all common experience, to the point where the main character and his closest friends have had their lives destroyed in the most horrific ways (and I mean, horrific). The story moves then, quite quickly and without a backward glance, into the realm of the supernatural.

I have no problem with stories of the supernatural or magical realism (and what is the difference? there we get into sticky territory). But it takes a steady hand to control the narrative once you introduce this kind of thing, and Little lets it get away from him. The last chapter or two I found very hard to follow, and so many questions were left unanswered that in the end I was both confused and dissatisfied. And feeling more than a little gritty.