Garlands of black roses adorn the scene of unexplained deaths, the calling-card of an evil that still lurks in Greenfire Forest. There’s a mystery to solve, an enemy to defeat, and a friend to save, as a group of school chums on a camping trip stumble onto an ancient curse and the malevolent entity at its heart.
Roses of Doom is a teen horror/supernatural mystery novella, self-published by a pair of teenage sisters under the single pseudonym S.P. Wish, and offered as a free e-book. I found their story via the book and media review site Review Carnival and thought I’d give it a look.
Manga influence is heavy in this story. For example, it opens with a list of the main characters and their vital statistics, blood types, zodiac signs, etc, in the preface. They’re all of Japanese heritage, though the story is set somewhere in America (their mothers were recent immigrants, and friends). The story is rooted in Shinto and Buddhist notions of magic and the afterlife. It embraces themes of friendship, loyalty, courage, and self-sacrifice. There’s a tragic, puppy-love romance.
The horror element in Roses of Doom, however, is too-quickly defused once the central mystery is unveiled and the ghost hunt turns to ghost busting. The writing is awkward at times and needs some grammatical polishing. The plot wanders. All these issues combine to drain suspense and emotional impact from the story. More critical feedback in the draft stage and some editorial oversight would have been helpful.
I think S.P. Wish has promise. The idea of a twin-sister collaboration is interesting and distinctive, but I’d like to see fewer conventional plot elements and more of their own, unique voice. They seem to have a passion for writing, plus the determination and courage to send their work out into a very harsh marketplace. These are key qualities for any writer, and I know several very good adult writers who battle the terror of putting their work on public display. It helps to learn fearlessness when you’re young. The polish will come with practice.
Keep pressing on, ladies. I look forward to your next story.