The Mill – Jess Harpley

18 Sep

T'MillDrowning her sorrows in drugs of all varieties never seemed to help Jen with the unending loneliness. Being a twin, she thought she’d always have someone there for her. Someone to look out for, and who would look out for her.

Hunted, alone in the dark she yearns for that companionship.

Welcome to The Mill, where all manner of creatures from the deepest reaches of hell seek to devour body and mind. Jen will have to cross space and time to return home, but will she come out unscathed? Will she ever see her brother again? Can she even survive the night?

It’s rare that, when an author contacts me about a potential review ,they also invite me to email any time I fancy a chat. Naturally the opportunity wasn’t allowed to pass by and that personal touch made me intrigued to read this, that and my favourite old local was called The Mill and so nostalgia played its part.

As short as this book is, covering only 160 pages, I was impressed with the amount of story packed into it.  The story was certainly not what I was expecting and I’m glad of that as I enjoyed the feeling of being caught off balance as the narrative quickly turns from family drama to a fight for survival.

The Mill, at heart is a bloody Sci-Fi horror (a bit like the pub!) with plenty of wit and one liners thrown in to keep the plot from descending into something much darker and serious.  There are plenty of ideas familiar to fans of both genres but those ideas are moulded into something different with enough mystery to keep me wondering about certain things even after the book was finished.  The length of course has me hard pressed to mention anything specific without giving out spoilers.

Jen is the vulnerable yet sassy protagonist of the book, she is a character dealing with deep issues of which the book touches on mental health as well as mentioning suicidal thoughts and such.  This layering of internal struggles is cleverly subverted though by the experiences and lessons learned throughout.   There is a sense of the tragic here, perhaps not in the character herself as much as the opportunities in life lost to her before the events chronicled here.

Despite the gory violence that litters the text, it’s not all macabre, there is plenty of substance in the world building and lots of strange goings on that will make it a book read in one sitting or two at most.  The fantastically arty cover makes this one a book to judge by its cover, as it pretty much sums up what you will get; a fast paced, sinister novella which has made this reader interested in finding out about all the unanswered questions and where the story goes from here, which I hope it will.


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Posted by on 18/09/2015 in Horror, Sci-Fi


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34 responses to “The Mill – Jess Harpley

  1. Resa

    18/09/2015 at 19:37

    A wonderful review, and I agree about the book’s cover. Hope I can sleep tonight. Thanks Ste J


    • Ste J

      18/09/2015 at 19:40

      People at work thought I was reading a graphic novel and then regretted telling me so as I gave them an indepth monologue on what the book was about. Sleeping? when there’s books to be read? Madness!


      • Resa

        18/09/2015 at 19:45

        “lol” Although, why should I laugh because you have a passion that keeps you up at night? I went out at midnight & took pics of graf last night. It was my first night shoot, but I was alone & it was a bit scary.


        • Ste J

          18/09/2015 at 20:03

          I can imagine…keep yourself safe and don’t talk to strangers.


  2. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    18/09/2015 at 22:29

    The review piqued my interest. I somewhat like sci-fi horror… 😀

    Let’s see if I can win a copy ( hope it’s e-copy) of the book.. 🙂


    • Ste J

      19/09/2015 at 08:06

      I like piquing and would also like to go to Peking also, I know it’s called Beijing now but that wouldn’t have worked for my wordplay sadly. I hope you win a copy, free books always make the world a sunnier place.


  3. Lyn

    19/09/2015 at 12:45

    Another great review, Ste J. The cover doesn’t worry me…well, not the top half anyway. The bottom half with the creature in the tunnel was a different kettle of fish. When I was a kid, I had nightmares about dogs who could read your mind. The end of their snouts looked like an old fashioned gas mask, and if it touched you, it would kill you. You were safe if you could peel the end off their nose.


    • Ste J

      20/09/2015 at 14:38

      The dog is an effective bad guy I can tell you! It’s crazy how dreams stay with us and and effect us in later life…the gas mask thing reminds me of a Doctor Who episode which makes me happy, gas masks are surpisingly effective in the scare department.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lyn

        20/09/2015 at 21:12

        I remember that episode…”Mummy…mummy…” 🙂


        • Ste J

          21/09/2015 at 15:58

          That’s the one, I really enjoyed it, great setting as well. What an interesting opener to the latest series, I wasn’t expecting the revelation with the child!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jess

      20/09/2015 at 16:29

      That is a pretty amazing dream! I would be terrified of a mind reading dog with a gas mask snout.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lyn

        21/09/2015 at 21:28

        I was. I’d wake up in a cold sweat :/


  4. shadowoperator

    19/09/2015 at 17:15

    After all the heavy non-fiction you’ve been reading, I think you were due for a walk on the weird side (the weird and horrific side, that is). I’m very envious, by the way, of your posting schedule–I’ve not posted a book in weeks! (And I always wonder why it is that I seem to get more view when I just shut up for a while–can it be that my readers are voicing an unspoken opinion?). Anyway, I hope to have a post up in a few days on a book I’m having some trouble with, but hope to be honest about and review creditably. In the meantime, I’ll gladly read your output! Ta for now!


    • Ste J

      20/09/2015 at 14:47

      I flew through this one once I got some time to actually sit down and relax, I was happy for something short and punchy, it really did the trick, made me feel refreshed enough to start Petronius’ The Satyricon. My posting schedule isn’t what it used to be but that’s what happens when you end up doing 40 hours a week, research for the thing I emailed you about and also attempting to read for the blog (which I hardly do at the moment) and corresponding. I am hoping to book some time off work so I can write lots and actually manage to read more than a book a month.

      I notice that I get more views when I haven’t been around for a while as well, strange phenomenon but I like to think people are checking back because they missed me. I look forward to your new post and will pop over in the coming days to check it out, I always enjoy your thought provoking and incisive posting.


  5. Jilanne Hoffmann

    19/09/2015 at 19:24

    I’m not certain this one is for me. Interesting review, though. Neil Gaiman is my go-to author for all things creepy.


    • Ste J

      20/09/2015 at 14:41

      I haven’t read much Gaiman, excepting the Sandman series and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is nice to have a contrast sometimes in the creepiness and this one is right out there in the bloody action stakes and creepiness.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. gargoylebruce

    19/09/2015 at 22:23

    I need a pair of those goggles on the cover.


  7. macjam47

    21/09/2015 at 00:05

    A great review. It’s nice to read a book that isn’t predictable.


    • Ste J

      21/09/2015 at 16:01

      I do like to be kept off balance and have to rethink my initial predictions. It feels good to write a book review again, feels like ages since I wrote one before this.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. clarepooley33

    21/09/2015 at 20:12

    Good review! I enjoy reading your reviews even when I already think the book isn’t my cup of tea. You write well. I hope the book is a success despite me not getting a copy!


    • Ste J

      26/09/2015 at 20:52

      I’m glad that I am able to give you a good read despite you no being a fan of certain books, I like to keep it interesting for all tastes, perhaps soon I’ll even review another Mills and Boon book again one day lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • clarepooley33

        26/09/2015 at 21:19

        My goodness! Mills and Boon!? I used to be able to read all sorts of books but since the break-up of my first marriage 30 years ago I’ve not been able to read horror/scary books. Just can’t do it. Sounds a bit soft I know. Maybe one day…


        • Ste J

          26/09/2015 at 21:24

          There’s never any rush with those sorts of books, I like to think your saving them up for a treat one day. I had the good fortune to review The Man Every Woman Wants, which was a birthday present, naturally I was less than complementary about it, despite wishing that I would be pleasantly surprised.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Jess D. Harpley

    22/09/2015 at 18:41

    Thanks again Ste J for taking the time to read my work, and providing an awesome review ^_^


    • Ste J

      26/09/2015 at 20:49

      It was really fun reading your book and getting to chat with you as well, I look forward to reading more in the future.


  10. Love, Life and Whatever

    26/09/2015 at 14:56

    Feels good to see your reviews my dear friend…. You bring much objectivity to even the subjective topics with ease.


    • Ste J

      26/09/2015 at 20:56

      Thank you, I’ve always been one to regard things from all angles and it feels good to be back reviewing, balancing posts of late has been a struggle for some reason but I hope to bring you plenty more reviews and hopefully some fascinating obscure books as well…I do love those.


  11. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    05/11/2015 at 11:36

    Hi Ste, I’ve posted a review of The Mill, would love to have your comment… 🙂


    • Ste J

      08/11/2015 at 19:53

      Of course! In fact I did it before I answered this comment such is my strange logic.



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