Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh by author Christopher Opyr
Thank you so much to author Christopher Opyr for providing me with a copy of Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh in exchange for this honest review.
Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh is a novella about a man with anxiety. Severe and crippling anxiety. He has to travel a lot for work, which causes more anxiety. His wife knows this about him and usually affords him some patience knowing he has to gather himself for a while after flights.
On this day, however, Pugh finds that he has 6 missed calls and 6 voicemails from her placed while he was in flight.
Now, if you’re a ball of anxiety like I am you’re already terrified. 6 missed calls?! 6! What could have happened to warrant 6 whole phone calls?! Who’s dead, who’s injured, who got robbed, where’s the accident, what can I do right now to help?!
Pugh goes through this familiar train of thought but it takes him a bit longer than it likely would for most people. He takes up about half an hour going through all of the various worst case scenarios before even listening to the voicemails to see if everything’s okay.
The rest of the book follows Pugh as he panics over things that people with well adjusted mindsets and no diagnosable conditions probably wouldn’t fret about. But there comes a point when even the most mentally stable reader will start to wonder if all of his panic might be justified.
Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh does something that I’ve never seen done in a book before. It perfectly replicates what it’s like to have a panic attack and how helpless that makes you feel. I’ve had panic attacks before, severe enough to get drugged up for an overnight in the hospital even, this book nails that feeling uncomfortably well.
I’ve mentioned in other reviews that I almost never find books to be scary. It’s just hard to capture fear in the pace of reading. Nothing can jump out at you and any scary images have to be put there by your own thoughts. This novella comes closer than any I’ve ever seen at being able to claim the descriptor of scary.
It’s a deep psychological fear that many readers, being the introverts who hate phone calls that we are, may have already experienced. It draws on that familiarity and brings our greatest fears to reality. That something did actually happen, that our worry is justified, and there’s still nothing we can do about it.
I had to put the novella down at one point but if I had had the time I would’ve read it straight through. Apparently, my supervisor doesn’t like it when I’m late back from lunch because “I had to see what happened in my book.” So give yourself a couple of hours of uninterrupted reading time to really let the panic engulf you. It’ll be worth it.
I cannot recommend this novella enough. It’s everything I’ve been looking for in a psychological horror story. Think I’ll buy a copy for everyone who ever told me that I was overreacting.
5/5 incoming calls 📲📲📲📲📲
For more great indie horror check out Last Junction.
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Buy it here: Calling Mr. Nelson Pugh
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