Author: Jeremy de Quidt
First published by David Fickling Books in 2016
Review by Miriam Atkinson
The Wrong Train is a fantastic blend of stories. The reader is introduced to an unnamed boy who, in his hurry, boards the wrong train home. Realising his mistake, the boy leaves the train and finds himself on an abandoned platform. He is quickly joined by an old man and his dog, who offers to tell the boy stories until the next train arrives. Seems harmless enough right? But the stories become scarier and creepier until the boy is forced to make a choice…
I’m always a little bit unsure when I pick up a thriller or horror novel because the genres are often full of predictable clichés. With The Wrong Train I was pleased and impressed to see that author Jeremy de Quidt had made sure that each short story had a different setting, different characters and a new threat that the characters had to face. Some stories featured the supernatural, some monsters, while others played on imagination of both character and reader leaving them uncertain as to whether the events being played out were real or imaginary. This last category was my particular favourite. The characters would often be in an everyday home-life setting and as a reader you weren’t sure if there was an other-worldly threat facing the protagonist or if the character’s own fears and paranoia were actually causing their downfall.
Unlike a lot of stories I have read, these short stories and the running narrative with the boy are not resolved nice and neatly with a bow. De Quidt wonderfully builds tension by getting straight to the action or the mystery. And as the stories reach the crucial climax…they end. De Quidt deliberately leaves the stories open-ended but provides the reader with enough information to imagine what will occur next. Sure the reader could imagine that everyone will live happily ever after, but we all know that that won’t happen. I think it is an effective technique because De Quidt automatically avoids the stories from becoming slowed paced after the climactic scene. It would also ruin the fun and mystery/thrill of the stories if the horror or supernatural element was then explained in lengthy detail at the end of each tale.
So whether you decide to read them by daylight or by torchlight, The Wrong Train is stuffed with eerie tales that are captivating and easy to read. With the variety of stories and styles on offer I am confident that there is something for everyone in this book.
*This review was first published in the online magazine Cuckoo Review in October 2016*