Book Review: Scratches by Joshua Marsella


Title: Scratches

Author: Joshua Marsella

Release date: May 11, 2020

I can’t even remember how long ago I connected with Mr. Marsella on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. A few years I think? Joshua has always been super supportive and encouraging towards a number of up and coming authors and when he announced his debut novella, I was so excited for him. It is a daunting task to not only write something, but then take the time and care to get a cover and click publish.

Once the book is out into the wild, you get to sit back and see what other people thought of your ideas that were banging around in your head.

What I liked: ‘Scratches’ will either excite you or it won’t. I don’t say that negatively. I say that because the story centers around a family that inherits a house that has a malevolent entity. This trope has been done a lot over the years and for some readers, mileage may vary. Add in the familial issues, both past and present and at times it’ll feel a bit like you’ve already read some of this.

Marsella does a great job of building tension. The crux of the story is that after the mother and son move into her grandfathers house, after he dies, Connor, the boy, decides to move his room to the basement. A place his mother refuses to go.

The reader knows that our grandfather fell down the stairs and was found deceased at the bottom, but Connor doesn’t. Through this, Marsella keeps up the chills as Connor continually feels like something is watching him, or hearing odd noises.

As someone who had their room in the basement for all of their teen years, I got it. I practically ran to my room from the stairs every night and slept with my door locked. Parts of this book gave me the same heebie jeebies that ‘The Nightmare Room’ by Chris Sorensen did.

I particularly enjoyed how the grandfather’s back story played into the human side of the horror.

What I didn’t like: This will sound harsher than I want it too, but Marsella didn’t reinvent the wheel here. For the most part, it is a straight forward ‘inherited haunted house’ story. He does do it well for his first release, but as I mentioned before, readers mileage may vary.

I personally didn’t enjoy a single interaction between mother and son. For the mother to know her grandfather was such a horrible human, it felt a bit forced that she continually turned a blind eye to every issue Connor brought up.

Lastly – I found the ending to be very abrupt. There was no real reveal of a how or why, just a ‘boom!’ done and then an epilogue. Maybe there is more planned to try and fill in the why, but as is, the ending is a bit jarring.

Why you should buy this: Overall, I had a fun time with this. It’s a quick read filled with creeps and when we learn more about the grandfather you’ll be nicely repulsed. If you dig haunted house reads, especially this time of year (nearing Halloween for those reading this review during the other parts of the year!), then this’ll fit in nicely.

Marsella has intrigued me to see where he goes next. Can’t wait to see what other worlds he’ll conjure!


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