In this spooky 5-story collection a bride-to-be goes missing just a week prior to her wedding, a student hears a chilling tale from a mystery writer he interviews for a school assignment, a greedy, lustful security guard receives letters from beyond the grave, a boy communicates with a loved one no longer with him, and a harrowing tale of domestic violence and it's consequences conclude the collection.
Although Dimas Rio's Who's There? is classed as a horror collection, it touched me on a very emotional level at times and, in my opinion, horror is always best when it's laced with grief, loss, mental health and desperation. These are the real life things that haunt us, after all.
In the titular first story we follow an addict as he comes to terms with his fiancé's disappearance shortly before they are to be married. I felt that Dimas Rio perfectly portrayed anxiety in a very poetic way. His description of anxiety, shame and fear as creatures who ”were undetectable by the senses, but they continued to squirm; to pester; to crave like a snake.” was a very accurate depiction of what it's like to live with these feelings. In fact, throughout the entire collection we see instances of this beautiful poetic description, it's definitely a strength of the author in my opinion.
The second story in which we follow a boy as he interviews a mystery writer, At Dusk, was my personal favourite, and my only issue with this book is that this story was so short. I'm a sucker for folklore and this was rich with Asian folklore, which is completely new and exciting to me. I would have loved a novella or novel based around the events and lore in this story. Despite how short it was, this story chilled me and it genuinely took me a while to get to sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about it. If you want to feel seriously unnerved for a while, this story has got you.
Wandering was the longest story and my least favourite. We follow a security guard, who is kind of a creep, on his night shift. He starts to hear noises and feel that someone is around and then he starts to receive letters which tell of spooky events. I felt this story started off a bit slowly, but I understand that it was needed to build suspense, but when he received that first letter I couldn't stop turning the pages. The suspense was done so well with the reveal of new details in each letter and I didn't see the ending coming at all.
My other favourite story, which I also wish was longer, was The Voice Canal. This touched me on a very personal level. When I lost my mum to cancer 4 years ago, I was so stressed, sleepless, and grief-stricken that I thought I would see her sit on the end of my bed at night. I know very well what grief can do to a person and their mind.
The final story in the collection, The Forest Protector, is a harrowing story of domestic abuse and a woman's desperation. This story was very moving, especially since we saw the domestic violence through the eyes of a child too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this little collection of stories and I think the author has real strengths in creating suspense, an unnerving atmosphere, and capturing human emotions and describing them so poetically. I look forward to and definitely will be reading more from Dimas Rio in future.