Review: “The Nowhere Man” by Sarah Pinborough

3 of 5 stars.

This mysterious little tale fluctuates between sad and creepy, flirting with horror. It also presents a potential allegorical read for young Ben, the protagonist as he deals with life and multiple forms of abandonment.

12 y.o. Ben’s father is gone and his horrible, horrible mother is dying of cancer. The townsfolk now overlook how horrible she is/was, because she is dying–so they’re not fully there for Ben either. His teenage sister, Amy, disappears leaving all of her prized possessions and Ben behind. The police list her as a runaway, but Ben knows better and is resigned to the worst.

A couple weeks out of school and months after Amy’s disappearance, Ben and 2 friends spot a creepy guy with a machete exit a cornfield and head toward them. They run, but Ben circles back to follow the guy while the friends go to get adults. Ben follows the guy to a tree which the guy climbs despite wearing a suit and carrying a machete. When the adults arrive, they find the tree is empty.

That night, Ben is awoken by the guy reaching through his window offering to take Ben to see Amy . . .

This short story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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