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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
An irrational fear of holes becomes the source of horror in A.G. Sullivan's Trypophobia. Young Ben Brennan is the unfortunate trypophobic in this tale, and his father, Brian, will bear the brunt of his anxiety disorder. It begins when Brian is awakened one night to find Ben covered in ants. It may seem like an isolated incident, but it becomes symptomatic of larger concerns and horrors for Brian. As Ben suffers from terrifying images of small holes, it becomes so unbearable for him that his mental and emotional condition worsens, and it takes its toll on the family household. Brian gets fired from his job for spending too much time tending to Ben. Upon his father’s death, Brian sets out to bury him and discovers more about his father including a dark past that is related to what is happening to their family right now.
Trypophobia sets the bar for the horror genre as it is deeply disturbing. What A.G. Sullivan does with the novel, and it works so well, is that he doesn’t appear to try hard to scare us. It’s all in the mind for him. He plays with your mental faculties in such a way that it triggers your distress. His narrative has the right combination of tones to pull it off: from the mental image of Ben covered in ants to dialogues that reveal looming horrors; it has a well-calibrated exposition of what is particularly nightmarish. The torch has been passed. Sullivan continues the tradition of literary scares that the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz have started. This is a brilliant tale of dark terror that will keep you awake at night.