Canal Dweller by Matthew Samm

Canal Dweller: A Short Horror Novella (The Dweller Series Book 2)Canal Dweller: A Short Horror Novella by Matthew Samm

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual rating of 4.5

I’m going to do something that I normally don’t. For this story, I want to use a portion of the Goodreads synopsis as I feel that it greatly explains this story and that I would not be able to do the same in my own words:

David has a disease. He was born with it and when he tried to tell his parents about it, they shunned him. In desperate search of peace, he sits by the city’s black artery; the canal. He’s done this many times.
But when he sees a man viciously murdered, David becomes entwined in a secret that’s been killing for years. In the midst of terror, David begins to find himself. Will he survive? And what will be the cost?

I was so pleasantly surprised by this story, it’s not just a traditional horror story. This is a horror story in more ways than just the one. It deals with a monster, yes, but it also deals with a man who is too terrified to be true to himself because of what his father thinks. He is so terrified to admit his truth to himself, that he is violently ill, that he runs from the people who could possibly help him the most. And it really is a horror. To feel that you cannot be yourself because of what society thinks, because of what others think, to be so deathly afraid of WHO you are because of these things is something that is all too real to so many people in the world. I felt that THIS part of the story was a forefront, and that the monster itself took a backseat to it.

Samm has been able to write a horror story so resonant with today’s society that I felt every second of David’s pain. I felt his revulsion, his fear, his heartbreak and his grief. This story made me have SO many emotions.

I love that Samm took something true, the disappearances and murders of gay men near the Canal in Manchester, and gave it a supernatural spin. It really makes you wonder, what if the things that go bump in the night really WERE the monsters we were told didn’t exist? And how sometimes, the most outrageous solution makes the most sense.

The creature itself didn’t terrify me as much as other aspects of the story, to be honest, David’s father terrified me more. His rage, and pain and absolutely disgust at his son was terrifying. I almost preferred the monster over him. Come to think of it, I think I did. The monster was acting on the most basic of instincts, survival. Yes it could hold a grudge, but I feel that that was completely normal in these circumstances.

The horror for me, as I said above, lies with David’s father. To think that this is what some people actually experience hurts my heart. To know that there are people out there who have taken their own lives because they have experienced such prejudice and hatred from someone who was meant to love them no matter what, is just so upsetting. But you know what? It’s real. It happens EVERY day. And I love that this story really gave us a look into how it feels to be on the receiving end of something like that. Of course I could never understand fully, as I’m not in that situation, but to be able to read a story from the point of view of a character that is going through something so horrible, being put through so much heart ache and pain from someone who was supposed to protect them, it really helped drive home the fact that, it’s none of our damn business who someone loves. It is not a choice. It is not some disease that can be wiped from the earth. It is love. Plain and simple. It should not change how you feel about someone just because they love someone of the same sex. Does it honestly change who they are as a person? Do you think that they just woke up one day and something clicked in their head and they decided “hey, I’m gay now”. They’ve always been this way and it doesn’t change a damn thing.

So for me, this part of the story really took a forefront to the ACTUAL story. It really added to the hopelessness that David felt, not just because he had no idea what he was fighting, but because he was floating in a world where he didn’t know which way was up. He didn’t know what to do and was so damn LOST.

This was definitely a fast paced story, the characters were incredibly well written, it was so believable from every side and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how it was a horror story, but it was also a story of self discovery. Absolutely fantastic work Mr. Samm. Thank you.

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