Review: In Nightmares We’re Alone by Greg Sisco

In Nightmares We’re Alone by Greg Sisco
Off Limits Press (March 2021)
260 pages; $16 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann

As far as introductions to an author’s work goes, I can’t think of a better offering than a collection of three, novellas differing in style and substance but sharing the same universe and characters.

All three tales in In Nightmares We’re Alone are told from a first person POV. Greg Sisco takes readers through a character’s own, personal nightmare as they are living it. . .alone. But they’re not really alone, are they? We are with them.

The first story, “Good Little Dolly,” tells the story of a young girl living with her mother and her older sister. One of the girl’s earned rewards from her busy, distracted mother is to open the package whenever a new doll arrives at their house. The large dolls come pretty frequently. Both daughters have different feelings about their mom’s expensive doll collecting hobby.

One day, the girl opens the box to find a doll with unsettling eyes. I enjoyed this classic “creepy doll” horror tale. It builds suspense and tension as it moves along at a quickening pace. Perhaps even more unsettling than the doll with the strange eyes was the family dynamic between the mother and her two daughters.

“Growth,” the middle story, is perhaps my favorite. Sisco’s drastic change in narrative from the young girl to a narcissistic, manipulative con man is a powerful transition. Readers will find themselves in the mind of a vain, shallow individual whose life is turned upside down when he discovers that his fingernails are sprouting some kind of plant life. The man’s attempts to deal with his condition in various different ways is body horror at its best. It’s both humorous and disgusting. The fact readers won’t find themselves totally empathetic to the protagonist’s situation makes for a very entertaining read and a surprising conclusion.

The final story, “That Thing We Don’t Quite See,” is yet another startling change of pace. The woman in this story is tormented by unusual messages from her deceased father’s typewriter. As more of a quiet, existential nightmare, this last protagonist was my favorite character’s head to be inside of as she spirals into herself pondering her own, heavy thoughts.

A writer must be extremely confident in his own ability to pull off the telling of a whole story in three parts through three acts with multiple first-person POVs. I’m impressed. One nightmare told three ways — a wholly unique and terrifying way to blindside readers. Greg Sisco nailed it. I’ll be looking for more of his work in the future.

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