Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not one to advocate books as movies, but every so often I’ll read something only to think ‘damn, that would make a great movie’. Sleep Savannah Sleep is an example of such a book. Alistair Cross has managed to write a horror novel I can easily envision as a movie – in fact, I spent most of the book surprised I wasn’t watching a movie.
Although I do not read horror books as often as some of my other favourite genres, I am a big fan. Most of my horror reads are from what I consider to be the ‘prime time of horror’, the eighties. There are some more recent horror authors I enjoy, but none seem to have the same impact as the classics. Whilst enjoyable, I often feel as though such books are trying too hard to imitate a bygone era. Alistair Cross brings us something different, leaving me with a new horror author to follow. With Sleep Savannah Sleep, Alistair Cross takes what is great about the modern-day genre and pulls you right in.
Think about the last few horror movies you watched. Make a list of reoccurring themes. It should be easy enough. I’ll even give you a bit of help. A family having faced a recent loss. A troubled teen. A move to a new town. Nosey neighbours. Small town drama. A crime (past or present). A creepy local. Strange events happening (across town and within the house). Nightly spooks. These are just a few of the things modern horror movies will offer, the things guaranteed to pull you in, and Alistair Cross offers them in spades throughout Sleep Savannah Sleep.
In some ways, this book seemed rather formulaic, it seemed to follow a movie script. Part one introduces us to the town and the drama – in the movies these are the first few scenes where we get to watch the family move into the house. Part two introduces us to the supernatural elements – in the movies these are the scenes where we start to realise something is wrong, moving shadows and unexplained noises. Part three is what brings the two prior elements together – in the movies these are the scenes where the characters start to put the pieces together, working out what is behind the supernatural elements. It was a different way to doing things, an approach to horror writing you do not see that often, and I really enjoyed this. You knew what to expect without the details being obvious – you knew drama was coming, you knew supernatural events were coming, and you knew a big reveal was coming. It’s a case of simple story telling being extremely effective.
In addition to Sleep Savannah Sleep being a wonderful horror novel, there’s also an underlying mystery. As with any good haunting, you’re left with all the why questions. Why isn’t the spirit at rest? Why is this character being haunted? Why is the ghost trying to send a message? Many whys, keeping you intrigued. In this case, it’s a murder mystery mixed with a horror novel. As I love a good mystery (probably my favourite genre if I was forced to choose just one), I was intrigued to see how things played out. I’ll admit to working out who the killer was almost instantly, but such failed to lessen my enjoyment. I was pulled in, excited to see how everything came together, and was eagerly anticipating the reactions of characters when all the facts came out.
With a brilliant cast of characters and a gripping storyline, Sleep Savannah Sleep manages to work under your skin leaving you desperate for more. Desperate to keep reading until you get your answers, and upon finishing desperate to read more Alistair Cross.
As my introduction to Alistair Cross, this was a wonderful read. I’m excited to dive into more Alistair Cross books, to see whether I’m impacted in the same glorious way.
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