Saturday, 23 March 2013

Review - Through Dead Eyes by Chris Priestley

Through Dead Eyes
Goodreads description: Alex joins his father on a business trip to Amsterdam. During the day he hangs out with the daughter of a family friend. They visit the usual sights but also coffee shops and flea markets off the beaten track. At one of these markets Alex spots an ancient-looking mask. Before he knows what he's doing he buys it. Later, in his hotel room, he feels compelled to put the mask on. Alex is sucked into a parallel Amsterdam, one from centuries before which begins to reveal the dark past of both the building he is staying in and the little girl who once lived there . . . edging stealthily towards the terrible twist.

I was lucky enough to hear Chris Priestley talk about Gothic literature at Lancaster Litfest, and it was there that I discovered his work. When I saw the creepy cover of his latest book, Through Dead Eyes, I decided to request it from Netgalley. Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving me the chance to review it!

When Alex accompanies his dad on a business trip to Amsterdam, he doesn’t expect much, least of all the company of an attractive older girl, his dad’s friend’s daughter Angelien. When exploring the local market, he feels drawn to a peculiar old mask, which gives him a creepy feeling. But when he sees an old painting in the museum of someone wearing that very same mask, he finds himself drawn into a dark mystery surrounding the mask, the painting, and its painter and subjects.

But the truth is more terrifying than he could have imagined: the mask gives him the ability to see through the eyes of a girl who could see the dead.

This was a very atmospheric and subtle horror story. The setting of Amsterdam is very well described, and Alex is a likeable protagonist, an ordinary teenager who is going through a rough patch. I didn’t like Angelien much - I think she was a bit cruel to Alex - but she’s a convincing character. The pace remains fast and the mystery engaging, even though the action is slow to build. The spooky moments worked really well – I’ll definitely be avoiding buying strange masks from markets in future! Though this is tame compared to say, Stephen King’s novels, it’s a great read for young adults and even though the final twist was a little predictable, the plot remains gripping and interesting. If you’re looking for a quick, spooky read, I’d recommend checking this out!

Rating: ***1/2*


  1. Yikes - sounds a little scary! But at the same time, I like the sound of this book. :) I'll have to check it out! Good review!

  2. Holy crap! The cover combined with the blurb make this one sound creepy as hell haha
    I've never read a Stephen King book before (I know, I'm a crap bookworm!) so maybe TDE could be a nice bridge into horror.
    Thanks for a great review, Emma!

    1. It's definitely not as scary as Stephen King's books! I've only read a few, but IT left quite an impression on me! (don't read IT if you find clowns creepy! :P) Misery's a good read, too (and appropriate for writers, even if you start worrying about potential crazy fans kidnapping you!).

  3. What an awesome cover and story premise! Even the title is great, this should do well!

    Thanks for the congrat's on my news too, Emma, nice to meet you!

  4. Ooh I love spooky reads! Thanks for the recommendation. :D

    1. No problem! This one's a good one!