Dweller - Jeff Strand I have read quite a few of Jeff Strand's lighter horror novels. Make no mistake, those books are dark and twisted, but there is a humorous tone that really sets them apart. I wasn't sure what one of his serious horror novels was going to be like. It didn't take long to realize why this was nominated for the Bram Stoker. This is dark fiction with real heart and insight.

Dweller has a dark humor to the story, to be sure. But it is the humor of a man who is deceiving himself and we cringe each time he does it--begging him to reconsider. It is the humor that masks deep hurt and alienation....and rage. You are left many times wondering who the real monster is in this story: "Owen"--the creature, or "Toby"--the boy who finds him.

A tragedy about a pair of outcasts who find each other. There is very quickly a bond that can't be broken. A choice is made by both and the cards fall into place from there. And along the way the reader is treated to a fascinating character study of a very damaged yet dangerous man and his relationship with a noble yet only partially controllable beast. Safety is an illusion as one cannot change one's true nature, even through love. Reality and other people keep getting in the way. The sacrifices made by each of them are inevitable and the deepest that one can make.

Deeply moving with profound insight into the many ways we fool ourselves. Toby is one of the most interesting characters I have come across in a long time, and Owen one of the most tragic. This is a very, very good book.