The short story format of Horror novellas is one of the most challenging to write, and the Horror genre itself in print is one of the most difficult to get right, to the extent that anyone who makes a genuine effort at it should be commended heartily. Yet, it is also in my opinion, the most successful form of the genre in print when it succeeds. I love this kind of thing, mostly from my history with the Twilight Zone when I was younger, when a story leaves you horrified, confused, and wanting more, and yet there is no more, you must just live with it and your emotions, which makes it somehow so much more perplexing. Sergio Pereira is a local writer, who has also made fine use of another wonderful addition to the modern author’s arsenal: dissemination by mass media online.
In Don’t Steal From the Devil, a brother and sister are alone at home, both discussing various issues plaguing the break-up of their once perfect home life. Their mother is sick and is asleep in the next room. They are interrupted by a pair of burglars who have more on their agenda than simple robbery, and it is from there that some of the supernatural elements enter in, which I can’t comment on further without giving too much away.
So, what we have is a good use of Horror tools: a short, immediately active premise. A succinct format with no clear explanations either way about major points, only supposition. An examination of the horrifying placed against the peace of a comfortable, perhaps boring suburban life. All of these are well known because they work well, and they are employed here to good effect.
If I had any criticisms it would be that the dialogue feels a little robotic or artificial at times; as though the characters feel that they are in a novel, and are not in fact speaking like real humans. Authors are of course entitled to their own styles, but for this purpose, letting the characters speak to themselves inside their own heads to carry their own thoughts and narration can be a good way to work in realistic speech patterns, and which can allow the horror to become very much more personal as well. The evil is unknown and incomprehensible, and it is attacking our heroes who we can understand very well as a result, making the contrast richer.
However, this is a fine early short story from Sergio, and I look forward to seeing him work on his style even further, and I wish him very well. This and other work from him is available on his website, at www.sergiopereira.co.za