Book Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Rating:  ★★★★

This is my first experience with Stephen Graham Jones, and I’m really sort of sorry for it. I wish I had started reading his work sooner.   Mapping the Interior is a story about a boy who is being haunted by the ghost of his father.  It’s a quick story, and the plot really is that straightforward.  It can be read in just a couple hours.

The prose is easy to read but also had a really strong sense of voice, which I loved.  It held a rhythm and cadence that felt unique to Jones.  This is a horror story, and it’s a slow burn, at least as far as a novella can be slow.  At first, the ghost just seems like a benevolent spirit, watching over his sons, but after a dangerous encounter with the neighbor’s dogs, we know that’s not quite what’s happening. (Content Warnings: violence against animals.)

The ending snuck up on me, and I wasn’t at all prepared for it.  It’s disturbing, not necessarily scary.  There are a couple flashes of horror between the beginning and the end, but it wasn’t anything that felt so horrific I couldn’t hand it off to a friend to read.  But then the ending came and I had to put the book down, and stop, and digest, and think about it, and think about it some more.  My initial reaction was that I didn’t like the ending at all.  It was a little ambiguous.  It makes you think twice about our heroic protagonist.  It seems to renege on the initial conclusions we’ve drawn.

If you’re wondering why I was raving about Jones all last week, it’s because this book stuck with me long after I had set it down.  It may be with me for awhile yet.  I’ve been putting off this review because I’m still not 100% sure how I felt about it.

If I had one critique, it’s that Mapping the Interior often felt literary: metaphorical and symbolic and allegorical.  But I was never quite able to grasp the meaning or the message behind it all.

Mapping the Interior can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good horror story now and then.

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

  1. I haven’t read anything by this author yet but I like the sound of this story being a slow burn novella. That’s not usually something you see very often, never mind something that’s done well. Awesome review Sarah! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jen! If you get a chance to check it out- i hope you enjoy it. I know horror isn’t your typical read- but given how quick this one goes, it might be worth checking out if it intrigues you.


    • If it helps they aren’t nice animals? Lol. Usually I don’t do well with that either- so it wasn’t too horrible, but it was pretty graphic. I hope you do check it out!


    • It’s good for the right person I think. It is kind of ambiguous, which is why I reacted the way I did initially I think. But if you like an ending that haunts you- go for it! It’s definitely worth reading regardless.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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