Title: Half-Life
Author: Gregory L. Norris
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Release Date: January 21, 2019
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance, Short Story
Page Count: 55 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5


Whitney Abbott travels to the seaside Maine town of Window to begin a new life in his uncle’s home. Robert Abbott is well-to-do and owns several high-end restaurants. Whitney will start at the bottom and work his way up at the flagship. But from the moment Whitney exits his car in the drive of the big, brooding house, he senses the sinister atmosphere surrounding his relations.

His cousin November, princess of the estate, feigns joy at having Whitney in town. And November’s handsome athlete boyfriend, Griffin, is an enigma. Soon after his arrival, Griffin warns Whitney to leave. With nowhere to go—and certain that his attraction to Griffin goes both ways—Whitney is drawn into November’s malevolent plans. Plans that will pit Whitney against dark supernatural forces in order to save both his and Griffin’s lives.

The story is one that starts at the denouement and then jumps back to how the hero managed to get into this situation. The plot is made up of a number of familiar elements. The hero is the product of poor circumstances and is forced to accept charitable support from affluent family, who represent ideals antipathetic to his own. Characterisation is limited by the length of the story, as are contextual factors. An effective short story should be one that is able to overcome the constraints of the medium and yet appear not to be rushed. The difficulty with this book is that much is left unexplored, scenes jump from one to the other without development and interactions between individuals appear fully formed and offer no opportunity for interpersonal growth. The storyline is interesting but would have been better served in a book of greater length.

The relationship between the two lead characters is most bizarre; one is openly gay and strengthened in character by intolerance. The other is a straight jock; so their relationship one would expect to be fraught with caution and yet this is far from the case. Instantly intimate, the only thing that keeps them apart is the underlying plot. Interestingly the author adds a fetish to the mix, which adds variety if no real tension. There is some limited sex within the story but this is used more to move the plot forward rather than to develop the relationship.

The story moves quite quickly, but does so in spurts. Time is given over to try to establish menace through emphasis on smells, particularly floral scents. These are focussed on the plot but do add some detail to the context of the story. Nevertheless, it feels as though too much time is spent on trivial points and that key issues are rushed.

The resolution of the denouement sadly lacks tension and although its results in a happily ever after, the reader is left with a feeling of disappointment that the story could have been so much more.

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Galley copy of Half-Life provided by Ninestar Press in exchange of an honest review.

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