Sunday, December 9, 2018
Book Review: 'The Well House' by M.S. Matassa
‘He was going to go crazy if Anne did not come back to him soon.’
Colorado author Michael S. Matassa earned his degrees from Regis College in Denver and the University of Colorado School of Law and is an attorney and Municipal Court Judge in Arvada, Colorado. THE WELL HOUSE is his debut novel though he has also written several short stories and a screenplay. He states discovered the well house in the late summer of 1994, standing by a field of corn on a small farm just south of Brighton Colorado, where it still stands today. His nom de plume is M.S. Matassa.
The author is able to transplant us into a terrifying nightmare as he opens his story with a scene that seems tangibly real – ‘The specks floated in the sky, drifting in circles as if caught in a small whirlwind. The old Mustang convertible, traveling on Highway 85 below, appeared from the south, speeding by emerald-colored fields of corn. It was a beautiful day in Colorado, warm and breezy with high blue skies and wispy clouds forming over the front range of the Rocky Mountains. The vast cornfields reminded Ben Carson of his childhood family vacations in the Midwest when life was much simpler. As the Mustang was about a mile south of the well house, the specks converged into a churning black cloud, drifting in a controlled, gliding freefall. Ben glanced at the mountains in the distance and noticed the strange cloud moving in the sky: a mass of black specks, circling and floating in the air, searching for something. Ben pulled the car over to the side of the road and shut off the engine. He sat motionless behind the wheel, intently observing the approaching cloud. As the cloud drew closer he saw the shapes of the individual specks—black wings flapping in a uniform rhythmic motion, glistening scales covering the quivering bodies. Birds or flying reptiles—he couldn’t be sure, but his chest tightened with fear. One of the creatures broke from the main group and dove toward for the Mustang. Ben sat in the front seat, petrified, unable to move. He watched the body of the creature grow large, then small, pulsing in rhythm with its beating heart. A shrill scream split the silence, and Ben’s head jerked to the left. He saw a small run-down well house on the edge of the cornfield with its door ajar, beckoning him to safety. The scream again pierced his ears, and Ben looked back at the sky. The black creature was no longer a distant object, but flew directly overhead, circling to his right. Ben decided to get out of his car and run across the highway to the safety of the well house. The old Mustang’s door had once worked with precision, but twenty-five years of use had made the door stubborn on some occasions, and this was one of those occasions. Ben pulled the lever, but the door didn’t budge. He pulled himself to his knees and jumped over the side. Luckily, the roof was down, making Ben’s exit easy. He started to run, but his feet slipped on loose gravel and his legs buckled. Ben put his hands down to break the fall, and the gravel tore into them, leaving small craters of glistening blood oozing out of the cuts in his palms. As Ben stood up, a sharp pain traveled across the top of his head. His hand immediately went up for protection, touching the warm sticky fluid matting his hair. As he turned around, a large black blur struck him in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Ben fell on his back, striking his skull on the concrete surface. Tears filled his eyes as pain shot through his neck into his head. Ben lay still, waiting for his mind to clear. He heard a ruffling of feathers and looked to his right. A large scaly winged creature stood next to him, peering intently at his face, a hideous grin on the parched beak. The black eyes of this hellish thing reflected the image of the well house sitting at the edge of the cornfield across the road. For an instant, Ben thought he saw Anne’s reflection in the blackness of the vacant eyes.’
And that is the quality of writing that is found on every page of this fantasy thriller. The ‘dream’ that opens the book is explained in the plot synopsis – ‘The dream is back and Ben Carson is terrified. His pregnant wife, Anne, is locked in a coma and Ben is the only person who can save her but he has no idea how to accomplish this. His dreams contain clues but they make no sense. Ben can’t figure what a small white well house and black flying creatures have to do with Anne. Then he meets a mysterious woman named Thelma Grippe. What he learns from Thelma shakes him to the core, but gives him the knowledge to free Anne from the force keeping her in the coma. Once he locates the well house, Ben finds a passage to another dimension, where he searches for Anne. After a long, arduous journey, Ben faces the ultimate evil that holds Anne captive. The Well House is a multi-layered tale that takes you on an amazing journey, from the mountains above Boulder Colorado to the depths of the dark zone.’
There is now a follow-up novel THE WELL HOUSE II and if it is of the caliber of this book then we have a powerful new author in our midst! Highly recommended – but keep the lights on....
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.