Scissorman by John Brindley

The story kicks off with a seven-year-old boy who gains a step-brother and step-sister due to his mother re-marrying. Peter, the youngster, is naturally forced to live with these new people, who turn out to be the twins from hell. Stuart and Jane proceed to torment the boy with hideous stories of his dead father coming back to life. They call his dad the Scissorman, because of the shape his stiff zombie legs makes when he walks.

I was really impressed with Brindley’s ability to capture the childlike mentality of a seven year old boy, and found myself moved by the terror that was unfolding the kid’s life. A third of the way through the book, Peter is well and truly traumatised by the twins cruelty, and I was dying to find out how things would turn out. Sadly, this is where the story falls to pieces.

The rest of the book centres around the twins being punished for their misdeeds, through a strange haunting which appears to have very little to do with Peter or the so-called Scissorman. Peter walks around with a chilling blank expression on his face right till the end of the story, changing him from a litte boy you care about into a monster.

I felt there wasn’t really enough material in this book to fill a 170-page novel. It should have been a short story. As a novel, the story is padded out with needlessly repeated scenes that become boring. Worse still, the author uses the most tiresome repetition of words and sentences. Just look at this example:

Jane looked around. Stu’s bedroom door was open. She looked in. He wasn’t there.

Stu wasn’t in his room, and the house was dead quiet. Dead quiet. As if peopled by dead people. Peopled by the dead. Quiet.

That’s bad writing. Know what I mean? Bad writing. Just bad. Plain bad.

And it gets worse. I recall the phrase “A click clicked” from somewhere in the story. Oh come on, Brindley! Can’t you think of a better way to put it than that? He also has a tendency to add the word “scissor” into descriptions, presumably to make them creepier, like Peter giving someone a “scissor-stare”. Frankly, I have no idea what a scissor-stare is. This novel is worse than a competent writer’s first draft. The only editing done on it appears to be a successful spell-check.

This poor quality of fiction would never qualify in an adult market, and why it should succeed for teens is a mystery to me. It smacks of the attitude, “Ah who cares, it’s only kids. They’ll read any junk and never know the difference.” Read this novel only as an example of how not to write.

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