Thursday, March 20, 2014

Short and Sweet: "Don't Steal from the Devil" by Sergio Pereira

I'm trying my best to get through all of the books and short stories that have been sent to me by authors, ones that I have had just waiting on my desktop for... well, for a really long time. So today we have the short story "Don't Steal from the Devil" by Sergio Pereira. It's a very cool story about two siblings and their sick mother who get the upper hand on a pair of thieves in a way that you won't expect.

Cover design by Wesley Smuts

The story takes a very different turn from other horror stories I've been reading lately and I loved watching it unfold. There's a little bit of intrigue sprinkled in right from the beginning when the brother and sister, Peter and Jess, are worried about their mother and her strange illness that they can't diagnose. Plus, Jess is hearing ghost-like noises in the house at night, and there is also some backstory about their father leaving them. Several seemingly unrelated things come together in a gleefully evil way when two intruders tie up Peter and Jess and try to get into the safe in the parents' bedroom. Pereira gives just enough background information at the beginning of the story so that readers know what is going on and then he jumps right into the action. He never lets it up, and the story reads at such a fast pace that I think I read all of it in about five minutes.

If you take into account the title of the story and the mother's strange illness, maybe you can see where the story is going. I liked that Pereira used this device in a more cheeky way, though, to reveal the truth about how the intruders got into the house and just what they are doing there. The descriptions he gives are gruesome enough to give horror fans what they want, yet they don't get overused and don't take away from the real reason for the story. The corruption by evil is what the devil does best, you know, and though I really enjoyed how Pereira ended the story, I would have loved to see the ultimate manifestation of that evil as perpetrated by the children and see how it affected them.

My only small complaint would be that some of the dialogue sounds unnatural. It sounds like the writing of someone whose first language is not English and so the colloquial sound is off. His characters say "do not" and "you are" and "I must go" - when most people use contractions when they speak, and I can't remember the last time I said that I "must" do something. If this part were fixed, then the story would be much more believable and not so distracting.

Otherwise, high marks for this intriguing little story! I hope Pereira keeps it up.

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