Today’s book might make you lose a little faith in humanity, but I promise you it’ll be worth it. This is Five Minute Books.
I’m Garrett Robinson, independent co-author of the Realm Keepers series. Welcome to Five Minute Books, the show where I promise to tell you everything you need to know about popular books in five minutes or less.
It’s indie week, and I’m reviewing my favorite title by two of the biggest self-published authors out there, WhiteSpace by Sean Platt and David Wright.
As always, this show will be spoiler free.
Gonna geek out about this one a little bit, because this book is REALLY good.
WhiteSpace isn’t the most popular book from Collective Inkwell, the publishing company of these two authors, but it’s definitely my favorite—and I say that as a guy who doesn’t even like most horror.
The story takes place on Hamilton Island, a supposedly semi-utopian community dominated by the incredibly rich Conway family, who do all kinds of biotech research, some of it for the government. The town is shattered when tragedy strikes their school, and while I’m don’t want to spoil anything, one doesn’t have to read beyond the first couple of chapters to know that one of the important victims of the incident is a teacher named Sarah Hughes—without which detail the rest of this review becomes kind of impossible.
After the tragedy, more and more mysterious behavior begins cropping up amongst the citizens of Hamilton Island. People start doing strange, unexplainable things—many of them violent—and then wake up suddenly, not knowing where they are or what they’ve done.
Jon Conway, of the wealthy Conways on the island, is one of the story’s protagonists. He’s a boy who grew up rich but unspoiled, then left his overbearing family and his high school sweetheart Sarah Hughes to become a successful Hollywood actor.
Another protagonist is Cassidy Hughes, sister of Sarah Hughes. See why I couldn’t do this without telling you about her? Cassidy is a recovering drug addict at the beginning of the story who’s now saddled with taking care of her deceased sister’s young daughter—a task she feels wholly unprepared for while dealing with both her sister’s loss and her own addiction.
There’s numerous other POV characters in the book, including some of the children from the school, but it’s hard to describe any of them without giving away parts of the story—which is actually part of the brilliance of this book.
Small-town communities like Hamilton Island are always tightly connected, often to an almost incestuous degree. Platt and Wright have done a fantastic job representing this; learning anything about one character tells you a lot about another character, and the whole island. The dynamics of the setting, the people and the story are thus given to you a nugget at a time, like peeling layers off of an onion—which is a hard writing trick to pull off, even in highbrow literary books, and extremely impressive in a book that a lot of people would dismiss as “genre fiction.”
This is what makes WhiteSpace my favorite Collective Inkwell book: the story, and the characters. The action is better in some of their other titles, and the crazy worlds more interesting, but WhiteSpace is about people we CARE about. The mystery is OUR mystery. They’ve managed to achieve that holy grail of pulling you directly into the story, so that when things get dark—and HOLY COW do they get dark—you’re THERE, cringing, screaming and fleeing for your life along with the people in the book.
Like I said, I don’t like horror, and the reason why is that I feel so much of it is about shock value. The authors seem to be competing for the most imaginative way to butcher people, the most terrible and deformed monster, the most unique take on the undead.
If I do like horror, it’s because it’s chock-full of what WhiteSpace has: the often-described, but just as often elusive, creeping sense of dread. There is no monster in WhiteSpace chasing the heroes through the darkness of the streets.
The darkness is inside them. They are the monsters.
They don’t know why, or how. And there’s no telling who is going to snap next, or what they’re going to do. It’s freaking terrifying.
In summary, I give WhiteSpace five stars out of five.
If you’re a horror junkie, I don’t think there’s a better read for your money. But even if you don’t like horror, you should pop on over to Amazon and give the free sample a try. These authors might surprise you.
Thank you for watching Five Minute Books. You can purchase this novel, and I certainly hope you do, by clicking on the cover, which will take you to the Amazon bookstore via an affiliate link that helps fund the show.
Make sure to subscribe to the channel to see future reviews and other book-related goodness every day of the week, and we’ll see you next time.