Book Review – High Stakes by Joel Betancourt

Let me start by saying that I don’t generally buy horror books or short story collections. I picked up this collection on a whim after swapping a few comments with the author on WordPress (nice guy). I avoid these kind of tales because I have enough in the way of dark places in my mind that I actively avoid and don’t need to introduce others’ foibles into an already overcrowded place.  Short stories also usually irritate me as I just get comfortable with the concept or characters then they end and I have to start over again

Yeah, I’m not easily pleased I know.
As I read these stories I found myself continuously uneasy and creeped out, which I suppose is the point of horror stories. I didn’t like a lot of the characters but was sucked into their stories quickly. I had too many questions, most of which I didn’t fully want to know the answers to. All of these effects are what i usually experience reading horror books, which is why i dont.
The author of this book however has a way of fleshing out his characters and making their humanity shine in inhuman situations. Joel’s descriptions are vivd, engaging and make you care, love, hate, and fear his characters. He understands precisely what makes people connect with characters.. Their strengths, weaknesses, desires, faults and virtues…He exposes them quickly and with an artist’s rendering to lay bare characters that we as the reader only have a short but creepy/sad/fearful encounter with.

The author of this collection has left me wanting more from him, has creeped me out and stoked a little of my interest in the genre by giving real, flawed characters to read about. Only Jonathan Mayeberry has managed this for me in the horror genre before now.
Give it a go, you won’t regret it.

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