D.B.C. Pierre - Breakfast With The Borgias (3 stars)

Compelling tale from the Man Booker Prize winner, despite failing to terrify

D.B.C. Pierre - Breakfast With The Borgias

Part of a series commissioned to reinvigorate the literary reputation of Hammer, the former home of classic British horror, this is a beautifully written, creepy and funny novella by the Booker-winning author of Vernon God Little.

Sticking close to genre conventions, Pierre’s story involves computer programmer Ari Paneck, who finds himself stuck in an eerie, run-down guest house with no phone signal or internet when his flight from Boston to Amsterdam gets grounded by bad weather on the Essex coast. After several baffling encounters with the only other guests, the eccentric and dysfunctional Borders family, Paneck begins to realise the extent of his helpless isolation, and where it may lead. Pierre evokes the walled-in nightmare scenario perfectly, and it’s never less than hugely compelling reading.

There is a problem though, which is that it’s not particularly scary; surely a requirement for stories with the Hammer stamp. Rather it is a fascinating, occasionally chilling tale, filled with keen observations about our increasing dependence on screens and devices; a theme set up by the potent opening line, ‘Technology is the way, the truth and the life’.

Published by Hammer on 31 July

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