British horror and suspense author, Dave Jeffery has released a new novella titled Bad Vision. Bad Vision was released on the 18th of October and was published by Hersham Horror Books.
We are big fans of Dave Jeffery here at GBHBL so any word of a new release means it is time for us to get reading. I am yet to read a book from Mr Jeffery that disappoints in any way so if you haven’t read anything by the man yet, you should get cracking. After this review of course. Check out some of our reviews on other books by the great man for further convincing, by following these links. Necropolis Rising, Necropolis Rising Necromancer, Necropolis Rising Dead Empire and Frostbite. You can also find out more about the man behind the text by checking out this interview.
On to Bad Vision then.
Ray Tonks has the power to see disasters as they happen. But he cannot do anything to stop them. Then comes the worst vision yet. Ray sees terrible future images, that defy logic, ghastly twisted shapes of depravity and torture. Now Ray must fathom if this latest vision is his first real chance to avert a dark and hideous catastrophe or a sign that his fragile mind has finally given in to madness.
Murder can change your mind.
Bad Vision starts off with us meeting a man called Ray Tonks. Ray appears to be in a bit of trouble as he is sat in a police interview room. He has been dressed in an anti rip suit and has had all his possessions removed. Ray is being questioned by a detective, Malcolm Cross, and it is apparent that something terrible has happened. We learn also that Ray has waived his right to legal representation. He is here voluntarily. As e gets gently questioned by Detective Cross, Ray starts talking quite cryptically about the mind. He explains to Cross that “it” all started really on the day of an earthquake in Indonesia. A terrible tragedy that killed 800,000 people.
By the book title and Ray’s almost dreamlike talk about the mind, you know that he is suffering from premonitions. The pages that follow throw the reader right into the middle of the Indonesian one as we read of the destruction, terror and despair that befell those caught up in it. Ray wakes up in his bed, as we stay in the past, next to an empty space where his wife should be. Apparently Denise is fond of an early morning run, thus the empty space. Though we also learn how that empty space is enveloping their whole relationship. As Ray tries to regain his composure after the dream/vision, he thinks back on his childhood. A time the visions started and also a time he learnt to hide them due to the disbelief of those he had told previously.
We continue to learn about other people connected to Ray. Denise is out jogging, thinking about how she loves her husband, feels secure but has lost all spark and passion. Learning more about Denise, we find out that she has secrets of her own. Secrets that have started turning up near her home in a red VW Beetle. Another vision hits Ray soon after, this time seeing a plane break apart and fall from the sky. Some may see these visions as a gift but for Ray they are definitely a curse. They leave him in pain and shaken and always happen just before the actual event, leaving no way for him to actually help anybody. The sheer horror and desperation Ray feels is palpable and oozes from the words you are soaking in.
After a slightly odd, uncomfortable conversation between Ray and Denise, we head to Rays place of work. On his way there though he is hit by a vision unlike any he has had before. Where they are usually so clear, this time it doesn’t make sense with him seeing a masked face on a woman’s bleeding body. Behind the woman a creeping shadow, wearing a zipped mask and with a contorted body creeps around. It is unclear and terrifying and really hits Ray for six. Ray is also concerned about the new found frequency of the visions, apparently prior to this time they were very rare but he has had now had many in a very short space of time and fears for his health and sanity.
At his work, we meet a few of his colleagues. Mike Tanner, Eloise Adebola and Brendan Short. We also learn of a killer in the area who is gathering body parts from victims and so has been dubbed The Frankenstein Killer by the tabloid press. It is really with the introduction of these characters that Bad Vision throws a curveball and switches the story from what I thought I was reading to something entirely different.
I have to admit I was sure I was reading a story about how something horrific was probably going to happen that Ray would “see” and need to get involved in. Perhaps he was a tuppence short of a shilling and would eventually find out he was unwittingly the bad guy? Dave Jeffery’s style of writing means that with each turn of a page I found myself being pulled in a slightly different direction. Bad Vison is an unpredictable living thing, bending and contorting as you delve further and deeper.
At it’s heart, Bad Vision is a story about mental health. Each character seems to represent a different branch of this most common ailment. Ray’s visions and Denise’ secrets mask deeper issues within themselves that have just been compounded by their marriage. Mike, Eloise, Brendan all suffer in different ways from dangerous tendencies to social inadequacy. Introversion, anxiety, anger – each character walks with their own personal demon or demons. These are explored in vivid detail throughout but with a touch of care and class. Dave manages to go deep into their childhood and address issues that caused, or enhanced, their failings. It is done in short bursts of internal monologue but with a high level of detail. Enough to make you care quite deeply.
With so much going on, you could be forgiven for assuming the main story, of Ray and his visions, could easily get lost in the fog. The twists and turns could divert away from the purpose of the story but it is written with clarity and everything slots logically together. It never feels too confused, instead each character and paragraph plays a pivotal role in telling a story that is very different to what I expected. A disaster horror rapidly changed into a psychological suspense that takes a long, hard stare at the struggles of modern life, living with any form of mental conditions and the extremes it can push some people too. It is a terribly sad story, despite some of the horrific violence on offer. The chance to see how a person was formed from a young age leaves you feeling heartbroken for even the worst of them.
I am really trying to avoid spoilers here. I think Bad Vision needs to be read in a way that allows it to unfold layer by layer and take you on it’s intriguing journey. Let’s end by saying that we entered this story knowing things end bad. We start at a police station, after all. We take a detailed and terrifying journey through the minds and mental states of a collection of characters whose stories interweave, driving us on towards the events that led to that start. A night where secrets transform into knowledge and the thin threads of sanity being held on to by all characters get put under immense strain.
Bad Vision is a fantastic story. It reminded me a little of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone but soon diverts and treads a different path. Apparently inspired by Dave Jeffery’s viewing of a horror movie called The Medusa Touch, which itself was written from a novel by Peter Van Greenaway in 1973. Unfortunately I am not familiar with either the film or the book so can’t attest to how close or not it stays to those stories. I don’t actually know if I have interpreted Bad Vision in the way Dave Jeffery intended. I feel that different people will take different things from Bad Vision. It is a story that reads best when you look deeper. When you look between the lines.
For me though, it is a heart wrenching exploration of mental illness. The main story is driven onwards by Ray’s visions, of course. They keep us moving towards that fateful end but it’s what happens around them that really hit home with me. I find this whole subject matter deeply interesting and found Bad Vision to be a fresh, exhilarating yet sorrowful take on it. The characters are deep, occasionally disturbing but they also feel real. They story itself keeps you guessing on how they reach the end, right up to the last pages.
Bad Vision makes you think. You think about the silent sufferers of these afflictions in the world today. You think about what we all hide underneath the costumed exterior we show to the world. It’s a remarkable story that leaves a mark on you many, many days after you turn the final page. Dave Jeffery shows again why he is rapidly gaining a reputation of being one of the great horror and suspense authors of our time.
Find out more about Dave Jeffery at his website, on Facebook or on Twitter. Be sure to give him a like and a follow while you are there. Head to either his website, here, or his Amazon page, here, to grab yourself a copy of Bad Vision and some of his other books too.
Horror Book Review - Bad Vision by Dave Jeffery
The Final Score - 9.5/10