Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

321880431997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

Source Format Pages Publisher Publication Date
Amazon ARC/ebook 280 Orenda Books December 20th, 2016

The minute I started seeing Twitter raving about this book, and my fellow book bloggers loving it, I knew I had to get a piece of it. The book is good… it’s really, truly so darned good inside and out.  It probably sounds unimportant but the mentions of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel hit the sweet spot for me. I’m listening to Where the Slime Live as I write this review… the perfect soundtrack for Six Stories.

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‘Welcome to Six Stories. I’m Scott King. In the next six weeks, we will be looking back at the Scarclaw Fell tragedy in 1996, we’ll be looking back from six different perspectives; seeing the events that unfolded through six pairs of eyes.’

You know what the beauty of this book is? Just think for a second… this is, in fact, a book (just hang in there, I’m getting to the point) and I’d say majority of people who read it, more than likely finish the book in 1-2, possibly 3 sittings. However, the podcasts, they are like an episode a week… Imagine actually listening to an episode a week, getting those new revelations… it’s like waiting for the next GoT or Vikings episode to air! Torture… Right, so the point I’m trying to make here is this: as a reader you sponge up all the new facts with speed and perhaps make up your mind about one character or the other quite quickly. Imagine having a week in between the podcasts though. You have longer time to ponder on what you’ve just learned, longer time to really put your personal brand of logical, analytical thinking into play, longer time to develop opinions, prejudices, theories. So, if you haven’t yet read the book, my recommendation is that you really give yourself time to enjoy each of the six stories. To really savor every moment as new facts or opinions are being presented to you. It’s truly worthwhile, if at times sad, to explore the group dynamics that Wesolowski… or should I say Scott King, is attempting to unravel.

♦♦♦

In 1996, Tom Jeffries disappeared at Scarclaw Fell. A year later, the owner of the land discovered his remains. Misadventure. No one was charged.

20 years later, in 2017, Scott King airs 6 podcast interviews with the people who were there at the time of Tom’s disappearance. People who back then were just a bunch of ‘free range’ teenagers under the care of 2 adults.

Hereby you could well be considering 2 facts:

  1. “Podcasts? Really? Does anyone even listen to podcasts?” and
  2. “Tom’s disappearance happened when the people involved were teenagers? Ugh, I don’t know if I want to read about the whole teenage drama, you know?!”

Well, first of all, I’ve never listened to a full podcast IRL. I’ve tried but I find that my attention gets easily side-tracked as there is nothing to keep me visually engaged. However, in the case of Six Stories, I sure would listed to those podcasts. As humans we are a curious, nosey bunch and we want the juicy details, no matter how tragic the subject matter. No matter how holy you consider yourself to be, you just want to know!

And, as for point 2, yeah, the characters were teenagers back then, but as they are interviewed, 20 years have gone past and they look back at their younger days by way of mature input. It’s always interesting, even when you analyse yourself, to look back decade(s) and see yourself in a different light, to reason and explain yourself in a different manner. It also helps that the characters involved in this novel are all distinct and come with their own unique self, with their own unique voice and personality… They also come with their own personal baggage.

The writing in Six Stories is superb. I don’t only mean the podcast to paper execution, which was really just very well thought out and came across professional, but also the beautiful writing that gets reader from scene A to scene B… not overly lyrical, but succinct and to the point.

There is evil in the world. There is definitely evil in this world of ours. We carve monuments to our fallen, engrave them with the names of those whose lives were snuffed out when trying to stop evil. We don’t forget.

Throughout the six podcasts, the hints are subtle (unless you’re a really judgemental person 😛 ) and there weren’t any strong indications towards one person or the other. And the structure of the book played a big role here by keeping me interested because until the very last story has been revealed, you can’t really be sure about anything or anyone, right? Right! Not to mention that for a while I wasn’t really sure where the whole storyline was heading towards with the sideline story around monsters in the dark.

I’ve seen reviews that didn’t really like the horror aspect of the novel. Fair enough. Personally? I think it tied in pretty nicely. I may be seeing monsters where there ain’t none, but again, and this is what I like to take away from this whole reading experience, is this: didn’t everyone involved have a monster in them? Or maybe, if we think that there is evil in everyone of us, we think of someone as more of a monster than they actually are?

They say, if you don’t look at a monster, it grows. One minute there’s a single eye staring at you, and before you know it, there are twenty-one.

Essentially, this murder mystery is quite a bit more than just a hunt for the guilty party. It’s a chance to think, analyse and consider human behavior on a deeper level. Use it! 🙂

♦♦♦

As each person was being interviewed to tell their side of the story, I couldn’t help but think of psychology’s 4 boxes aka the Johari Window:

Johari Window

It’s how we see&define ourselves and our actions, how others see&interpret us and our actions; and all those different angles twist and alter the details of the story- any story. It’s a simple fact of someone defining another person by their actions and how they appear. However, there is often a lot more to a person than can be perceived at face value. Everybody has secrets and unspoken aspects to their lives that affect and drive characteristics and attitudes. Simply put, this mightn’t have been how Wesolowski wanted the play on characters to come across, but personally I kept in mind and used this psychological tool as I explored each of the POVs.

The ending… the synopsis of the book describes the ending as devastating and it’s the truth. I bawled my eyes out. Totally unashamed about it as well. It was sad, DEVASTATING, heartbreaking, shocking and… yeah… ’nuff said.

♦♦♦

Matt Wesolowski is currently working on his second crime novel, Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Me? I can’t wait to read Ashes! Black metal and Icelandic sorcery? How good does this sound?!

Until then… if you haven’t read Six Stories, I happily recommend it to you:

Amazon UK ¦ USA

32 comments

    • Thanks Inge 🙂 Yeah… such a gem, this book… and definitely stays with me for a long time… it just ticked so many boxes. Fabulous! 🙂
      Hahaha.. yeah, I can get it, wanting to know as much as possible as quick as possible… the pages in this book jst keep turning themselves, really… but I was just thinking, how different it would be if we really did have weeks in between each story… how much of an accusing finger, or many odd theories we would come up with then, without new info for days… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The mentions of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, damn, definitely not bands for the Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift fans out there!😂

    I really don’t listen to podcasts either, I know there’s some great ones out there but, I don’t know, they just don’t appeal or hold my interest in them.

    Great review as always.😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! 🙂

      Aye… some good bands mentioned.. it doesn’t happen often in, dare I say, mainstream books… but I was a happy Larry to see those bands, and Darkthrone, mentioned! 🙂

      I know right? Podcasts are like… ok.. let me put it this way, every time I see podcast I think old people radio channel and/or some people discussing topics that are more boring than watching paint dry! oops.. I’m such a prejudicial bitch 😀 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow this sounds amazing!! I’ve heard so many good things about this already, I really need to check it out. Especially since you started mentioning psychology- I’m so so intrigued by that!! It sounds like everything in this really comes together!! Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Aaron! 🙂
      Nesbo, I think, writes a cracking novel… I’m yet to sample his works… would you recommend?

      Do let me know if you decide to read Six Stories… interested to know what you’ll think of it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have the sequel to Dragon’s Blade and then the 5th book in the Caverns and Creatures series, but I’m tempted to put Six Stories to the next slot after that. Is it long?

        Nesbo is a great crime writer. Only read one of his books but it was great!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Six Stories isn’t long at all.. I think the ebook is like 280 pages and it reads fast… you could have it done and dusted in a day, really! 😀

          Great stuff- I shall sample out some Nesbo books! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh man, I really loved the inclusion to your review of the whole psychology tool you had in mind while reading this. I’ve known about the Johari window but I never really referred to it as that before. This review reeeeaaally shows how much you enjoyed this book, and I’m really glad to hear that the structure alone (podcasts) really had you on a hook! Honestly, I never listened to a podcast. It never really appealed to me and I never really tried checking out what kind of podcasts existed. But man, this review was brilliant! Fantastic stuff, Liz! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Lashaan!
      Aye… for some people reading is just entertainment at face value… while others look in between the lines, the overall picture and draw parallels with things that help them understand the plot for themselves… I felt a bit stupid including the Johari Window in the review as something I used at the back of my mind to enjoy the book, but what can one do? It’s just the way I read and I have a feeling you understand this. I can tell by your reviews that you’re more of a thinking man as well than just after the entertainment factor from a book. *high five*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your review has me even more excited for a book I am currently enjoying? Haha how is that possible? Not sure, but you managed it. I have never truly followed podcasts, but my daughter does. I know that my interest is renewed after diving into this book, but like you my attention span.. well. I will leave it at that. I might check out the mentioned one the book though.. Serial I believe? I have been finding myself on a “true” crime kick lately. Loads of late night tv binging in that area 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha.. brilliant… I’m glad you’re enjoying the book this far… and I really-really-really can’t wait to read your final thoughts on it…

      Yes, I’ve found myself on the crime/thriller wave as well… definitely very different to fantasy… which is still great, but it’s awesome to mix genres and reading up a bit- everything feels so much… punchier, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am SO HAPPY YOU LOVED THIS ONE!!!! It has to be one of my favorites! I do listen to podcasts daily as pronunciation and listening exercises for my English, and I was so glad this one was a book and I wasn’t actually supposed to wait a week or more to get the newest episode!!! Every piece falls perfectly and there are crumbles of events you have to gather and make sense of, and that ending… I just love that book! FABULOUS REVIEW!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, written in the podcast format 🙂 There is mention of a real podcast in the novel.. ‘Serial’.. but I haven’t checked it out… hang on… *goes off to Google*…. well.. it looks like ‘Serial’ might have inspired ‘Six Stories’.. ‘Serial’ had two seasons where they looked at different subjects… they actually sound interesting… 🙂
      I have my fingers crossed for you on the giveaway… it’s a really great book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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