Sent to me by Orenda Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 15/03/17
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, 225pp
Summed up in a word: Catharsis
I have been seeing Six Stories everywhere! And for good reason 😀 When Karen at Orenda Books kindly sent me a copy for review I was ecstatic. A modern psychological thriller/mystery told in an episodic podcast format from multiple perspectives sounded brilliant! Matt Wesolowski has written a novel that puts the reader in the centre of a dark, haunting and serpentine thriller. I felt as though I was listening along with the world, dissecting the words of those involved and putting together my own theories for what really happened in Scarclaw Fell all those years ago. Bold, thoroughly addictive and leaves you breathless with a shocking conclusion.
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
Six Stories is an episodic thriller that pulls the reader into a mystery that has haunted Scarclaw Fell for the last 20 years. Matt Wesolowski is certainly an author you want to watch. A bold plot with a unique and masterful delivery. I have been looking for books that push the boundaries and Six Stories achieves this easily. What was meant to be an entertaining look into what happened all those years ago turns into a gritty and revealing showcase that has the world on the edge of their seats.
Tom Jeffries went missing on a run-of-the-mill outing with the local outdoor group The Rangers. One year later the body is found by a group of drunk teenagers that claimed they were hunting. Tom’s death was ruled as a death by misadventure and the case was closed. In the period between Tom going missing and him being found, people were accused, cursed by the media for being monsters, neglectful, deceitful and evil. Everyone one is happy to put the case behind them and move on. Investigative journalist Scott King is on a roll with his podcast series. He decides this case is worthy of his attention and sets out to find out what really happened on the fell in 1996.
By interviewing each of the people present or involved in the series of events that led up to the disappearance, SK aims to find out if Tom’s death was really an accident or was there more to his demise. Did someone want him gone? Was he a victim or did he push someone to far? Or is there something else out of the fell that could have been responsible? All the individuals involved want to get this experience off of their chest, they need the catharsis, and SK is just the man to find out what everyone has been keeping secret for the last two decades.
Wesolowski’s delivery of the plot made this book into something special. Told in a interview format, with SK’s thoughts and opinion’s threaded through, MW encourages the reader to join in with the speculation. Each account adding more angles to TJ’s death and why he may have been murdered. The depth and spectrum of voices in this novel were outstanding and MW did a superb job crafting so many different characters.
I enjoyed that, even though Six Stories is packed with characters, there is plenty of emotional depth and grittiness. Everyone gets their chance to explain what really happened, but it is up to the reader to work out who is telling the truth. There are two elements I found particularly fascinating. The first is the inclusion of The Beast of Belkeld/Nanna Wrack. Adding the possibility of a supernatural shadow monster being responsible added an excellent dimension to everyone’s story and stirred up the fears and emotions of all the characters present in the novel.
The second element that fascinated me was MW’s focus on group psychology. Matt Wesolowski shows a talent for understanding and appreciating human behaviour. From group dynamics/hierarchy and social linguistics to mental health and autism. MW also puts a spotlight on bullying, which I related to a lot, and it shines through his writing. I was impressed with the underlying message MW was delivering to the reader; I can always appreciate writers who are clearly anti-bullying. I also enjoyed the inclusion of death metal references, it was great for a fan like myself. (I listened to Municipal Waste while writing this review :D)
Six Stories is a modern, dark and challenging novel that won’t disappoint. I recommend the novel to reader who appreciate darker themes to go with a thrilling mystery. The development and pacing of this novel could not be timed any better. Though it is short novel, there are plenty of reveals and twists to sustain the reader all the way to the sensational final episode. I have given Six Stories a full 5/5 stars because it checked all the boxes for me. Unique, interesting, modern and unpredictable. I look forward to seeing what MW has in store for us next.
About Matt Wesolowski
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.