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Sequel's Book Nook: A Review of In Bloom by Paul Tremblay

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in bloom cover

"In Bloom" by Paul Tremblay is the fourth installment in Amazon’s Creature Feature Collection. The story follows journalist Heidi Cohen as she investigates recurring toxic algae blooms along the coast of Cape Cod. Her search for answers leads her to Jimmy, a local with a haunting memory and a chilling theory about the algae's origins. Jimmy's account suggests that the phenomenon has deeper, more sinister roots than anyone could have imagined. As Heidi delves into his story, she uncovers secrets that challenge her understanding of reality.

This was my second attempt at reading Paul Tremblay, having previously tried "The Cabin at the End of the World" without much success. Unfortunately, "In Bloom" shares some of the same traits that I found challenging in Tremblay's earlier work.

Tremblay's writing style in "In Bloom" is detailed and expansive, often verging on long-winded. While this approach can create a richly atmospheric narrative, it also tends to slow the pace significantly. For a short story, this can feel somewhat excessive and detract from the overall impact. The elaborate descriptions and extensive background information sometimes overshadow the core plot, making it difficult to maintain engagement.

The characters in "In Bloom" also pose a challenge. Heidi Cohen and Jimmy are central to the story, but they are not particularly relatable or compelling. Heidi's investigative drive is clear, but her personality and motivations lack depth. Jimmy's mysterious past is intriguing, yet his character does not evoke the empathy or connection needed to fully invest in his tale. As a result, the story's emotional resonance is weakened.

Despite these critiques, "In Bloom" is not without merit. The premise is intriguing, and Tremblay's ability to weave eerie, unsettling scenarios is evident. The underlying mystery of the toxic algae blooms and the gradual revelation of Jimmy's past provide a solid foundation for suspense and horror. The atmosphere of Cape Cod is vividly portrayed, enhancing the sense of unease that permeates the story.

Overall, "In Bloom" is a decent short story but ultimately falls short of its potential. Tremblay's long-winded style and unrelatable characters detract from an otherwise interesting tale. For readers who appreciate detailed, slow-building horror, this story might be more appealing. However, those looking for a more concise and emotionally engaging narrative may find it lacking. I'm glad it was a short story rather than a full-length novel, as the drawn-out writing style would have been even more challenging in a longer format.


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