Title: Only the Living Feel Remorse – A Ghost Story
Author: Ash Deza
Publication Date: September 1, 2023
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: 136 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 4 Stars
Some mistakes will haunt you to the end.
Imagine being haunted by a ghost. In life, he was your best friend. Now he wants you dead.
Who would you turn to for help? How far would you go to escape? How much would you be willing to sacrifice?
This is the gripping story of a flawed man who finds himself in a deep well of misery, haunted by his past, desperate for a way out. Will he be able to save himself? Or will the price prove to be too high?
“Only the Living Feel Remorse” is a suspenseful yet fast-paced horror novella. It tells the story of a friendship gone bad, a vengeful ghost and neo-pagan blood rituals which end up costing you much more than you bargained for.
Content Warning:Violence, death, (attempted) rape, classism, sexism, suicide attempts, blood, self-harm, alcohol abuse/alcoholism, trauma, and toxic masculinity. I will not discuss any of these topics in my review.
Life isn’t fair…and neither is death.
The main character was a violent, dangerous, and deeply flawed man who I nonetheless still found fascinating due to his creativity and resourcefulness. While many people are able to rise above difficult childhoods, he’d never had the time, money, or social support as an adult to seek the professional help he needed to do the same. This is in no way an excuse of his actions, but it did help to explain why he had such a short temper and often assumed the worst of others. It’s definitely not easy to strike a balance between writing an unlikeable character and giving the audience something about that individual that makes us want to get to know them better , so I tip my cap to Mr. Deza for pulling it off so nicely.
It would have been helpful to develop the supernatural elements of the storyline more thoroughly. I’m specifically thinking here of Father Perry’s reaction when the protagonist went to him for an exorcism and what the priest had to say about his church’s modern approach to the subjects of hauntings and demonic possessions. There was a room there for expansion, and I would have gone for a full five-star rating if all of that had been explained more clearly.
This novella had excellent world building that did not show up immediately. Most stories begin working on it from the opening scene, so it was a pleasant surprise to be about halfway through the plot and suddenly realize just how much I had left to learn about this world. I admire authors who take risks like these, especially when they work so well with what has already unfolded in the storyline. Would I have loved to dive even more deeply into how neo-pagan blood rituals work in this universe? Absolutely, but there was more than enough information provided here for me to understand what was going on and why the main character was tasked with such bloody objectives. Leaving a reader yearning for more is a good thing!
Only the Living Feel Remorse is a great choice for horror fans who are looking for something sobering and well written.