Susan Carver: A Novella (Nick Ballard #0.5), by Anthony Steven

Eight stars

After reading Anthony Steven’s debut novel, I turned to this novella that was on offer (for free!) through his website. The piece sheds some light on one of the minor characters from Catechism, while provided a little backstory about how another’s psychic abilities came to light. Susan Carver was a community nurse back in 1987, making her rounds to see various patients. When she entered the home of one elderly man, she knew something was amiss, primarily because he lay murdered in his home hospital bed. Susan found herself face to face with a madman who took her captive and locked her away with a number of other murdered women, wrapped in polythene. Called ‘Sally’ and ordered to answer questions to save her life, Susan thought back to an earlier time, when she approached a fortune teller at a fair back in 1978. There, she was told that she had abilities deep inside her that were waiting to be tapped. As she awaited certain death at the hands of this madman, Susan pulled on those hidden powers to find a solution to this dilemma, which was sure to have dire consequences if she could not act quickly. A great little piece that offers a little backstory for the Susan Carver character that meets and engages with Nick Ballard in Steven’s debut novel. Recommended for those who enjoyed Catechism, as well as the reader who needs something to fill their coffee break time.

While I read the aforementioned novel in a single day, I was able to complete this novella in one sitting and feel that it went well for me. Steven has a wonderful grasp of writing and presents his ideas clearly while keeping the reader guessing throughout. There is little time for much character development when it comes to Susan Carver, but Steven gives just enough for the reader to care and want more. Touching on her first experience with the psychic world, Susan dismisses it at the time, but comes to see its importance when she is face with imminent danger. The banter between Susan and her captor provides the story with an added edge and served to fill some of the pages of this piece that has little time to lag. While the story does not connect officially toy Steven’s novel (and will likely play no bridge to the second, as readers of the first novel will understand), it proved to be on point and effective in conveying some needed backstory for the curious reader. Quick chapters and forthright storytelling keep the reader engaged and wanting more, though I am unsure how long until the second in the Nick Ballard novels emerges to lure yet more fans of the series. Now then, how to spend my time waiting?

Kudos, Mr. Steven, for a great piece that took no time at all to read and enjoy! What else have you got in store for everyone?

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: