Everyone has a breaking point. So begins Jon O’Bergh’s suspenseful novel, The Shatter Point, an intriguing study of contemporary society wrapped inside a ghost story that is wrapped inside in a thriller. The novel confronts issues such as Internet celebrity, social media culture, and extreme thrills. But it also explores timeless issues of love, loss, and the ways in which we are haunted by our pasts. Weaving layers of truth and fiction, the story challenges our sense of reality with unexpected twists and turns.
Set in Southern California’s Orange County and historic Pasadena, the plot follows two parallel sets of characters whose lives eventually intersect. Jada Mercer is used to getting her way, and she loves danger. When she meets Asher Williams, a sensitive musician in a band, she pressures him to prove himself through the rigors of an extreme haunt known as Horror Place. At the same time, the haunt’s owners, Phil and Donna Woods, are locked in an escalating feud with neighbour Ruth Littleton.
The past intrudes in unwelcome ways for each character. Donna remains troubled by a previous marriage that turned sour when the husband became abusive. Her son Billy fears that he inherited his father’s propensity toward violence. Feelings of inadequacy haunt Asher from his years being bullied. Ruth hides a series of traumatic incidents from her youth. Jada’s craving for stimulation leads eventually to disaster. The terrifying consequences unfold step by step as the characters are pushed beyond the shatter point.
Much more than just a ghost story, the novel is a study of individuals under stress. The curious reader will discover different layers of reality versus fiction within the book. In a world haunted by the ghosts of the past—where reality is manufactured for popular consumption—how do we know what is real and what is fake, what is true and what is imagined? After the shatter point, the horror will become all too real.
[Everyone has a breaking point]
(BookBaby, 16 April 2018, ebook, 192 pages, copy from the author and voluntarily reviewed)
This is my first time reading the author. I really enjoyed The Shatter Point, much more than I expected to. This book is more of an intense suspense novel with paranormal overtones. The characters were well-written and really come to life. I like the way the novel is structured with each chapter focusing on multiple characters. The story builds slowly and becomes more and more intense as the characters become entangled in each other’s lives. The book is quite dark at times, especially towards the end when more and more sinister events befall the characters. I loved the concept of Horror Place, the extreme haunt attraction that becomes so disturbingly central to the characters and their lives. I liked the mix of characters. Even though some, such as Jade as unlikable I still enjoyed reading about them. The shocking ending completely floored me. The Shatter Point is well worth a read.