A Shrill Keening Review

A Shrill Keening - Ronald Malfi

Upon finishing A Shrill Keening, I'm left with one word flashing in my mind like a neon pub sign: Unremarkable. The story doesn't seem to have a purpose, and simply meanders about, tossing one idea after another at you before ending on a banal note. A Shrill Keening is not tense, not scary in the slightest, and feels derivative of far greater works. I suppose I might have read far too many crazy-person-may-or-may-not-be-crazy stories to have been blown away by this one. Perhaps I'm just tired of the premise. I've also had my fill of Lovecraft tributes. Far too many out there, and this is yet another tale snatched from that ever-growing pile.


The writing is fluid, though, and Ronald Malfi is obviously a talented author, but this uber short novella feels disjointed and unfinished. In fact, had I actually paid for this release instead of receiving an ARC from NetGalley, I would have been a tad bit upset. Might have even requested a refund. I was bored. Maddeningly so. Even a monstrous, world-killing entity rising from the depths is soporific. What should have been a harrowing scene comes off as lackluster, and left me feeling narcotized. 


So why three stars? Well, a great deal of this review is subjective. If you like your stories set in an nuthouse, you'll probably enjoy this one. If you dig Lovecraftian tales, yeah, you'll more than likely find this one worth your time. Moreover, if you enjoy wondering whether your main character is sane or a middle finger short of a flipped bird, you might get your socks rocked off. But A Shrill Keening did not cream my coffee, and left me without a desire to read more from this author. 


In summation: A well-written tale that isn't much else. Full of tired Lovecraftian tropes such as tentacled monsters and an insane protagonist, A Shrill Keening disappointed this reader, but you could very well enjoy it. Recommended to anyone who hasn't read it all before.