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Posted December 31, 2012
Katriel's writing ability is right up there with Edgar Allan Poe! i couldn't book this book down. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once! The concept of Alatiel was both charming and horrifying, and the skill of the writing, along with the surrealism incorporated, made this novella read a bit like a nightmare you can't wake from! I highly recommend this for any refined literary horror readers out there. This is not a book to read if all you want is a cheap thrill--this book is so much more than that! I loved it, despite being green with jealousy over this author's abundant talent with words the entire time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2012
First off let me just say that the cover of this novella reminds me of a Lady Gaga music video!! It's weird and creepy, and is a beautiful impression of what to expect under the cover.
This story is probably one of the best horror tales I have read in forever. I only wished it was a full length novel and not a novella. From the very beginning of the story, the reader is introduced to so many characters that it was easy to become a little lost trying to keep up with all of them, and if this story had been stretched out a little, perhaps they could have been better developed.
However, Katriel's writing style is superb and flows so easily, that even with everything going on it wasn't difficult settling into the macabre and twisted story of Alatiel Salazar, the muse who lures her victims in with her innocent looks and then turns their passion and desire into a dark obsession that leads to their ultimate demise.
It is quite clear from her first introduction that Alatiel is not exactly normal, and as Gabriel Holland goes in search of his beloved Helena, a chilling mystery reveals the truth of Alatiel’s existence and the darkness that stalks Carliton; A town under the control of Christian Salazar, a man stricken by grief and out for vengeance.
This is an unnerving ghost story that will send shivers down your spine.
Posted July 2, 2012
I loved this book. A fantastic and haunting novella that reminds you of The Picture of Dorian Gray in the style. The book had me on the edge of my seat through the entire story. I am looking forward to more of Mr. Katriel's work. He is a great horror writer who writes like the masters of another time. I even felt a bit of Dickens in his writing. This is a highly suggested read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2012
What can I say about this novella? I was really blown away by it. From what I’ve been hearing over the last few months, it should have blown me away…I guess the rumors were true. Katriel really knows how to write!
If I didn’t know any better I’d have said this book was written years ago…back when the Gothic style was first created. Katriel hit the nail on the head with his use of language and presentation. I was drawn into the story right from the beginning and didn’t want to pull away until it ended (I slept somewhere in the middle since it was late at night, but that doesn’t count).
When I met Alatiel for the first time, I didn’t know what to think. I just knew with her presence came trouble. I was right. The horror left in her wake is painted beautifully and unexpected. These moments were some of my favorite in the whole piece. This skill along with Steven’s ability to set up the scene in my mind lead to a feeling that I was in the story. I could see everything as it was happening, vividly.
This novella has surpassed my expectations in story and writing style. For this it has jumped high on my list of great books. This is an especially tough accomplishment considering it’s a novella. In around 21,000 words, it has changed the way I view the horror genre, and novella’s in general.
I would jump at the chance to read more of this author’s work in the future. That’s for sure.
Posted June 18, 2012
“The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar” is a gothic horror novella that possesses the brute strength capable of propelling a reader—even one who is unwilling—into its dark and shadowy confines, yet author Steven Katriel chooses, instead, to lure readers into his house of horrors by tantalizing them with promises of otherworldly events, dark and mysterious people, and an oppressive sense of impending doom.
And once you enter, there’s no turning back, as Katriel’s tale drags you deeper and deeper into the Salazar’s web. The story has so many layers, and its characters have so much depth and breadth, that this novella feels like a much longer piece.
Like a true master, Katriel leave the reader both satisfied and yearning for more. I can’t wait to see what he delivers next.
Fans of horror, Gothic horror, suspense, and mystery should check out “The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar.” I highly recommend it.
Posted June 17, 2012
An unnamed narrator stands amidst bloodstained pages in a ruined house in Camden Town, reading the desperate tale of a woman named Helena Graham. Her opening paragraphs refer to a wretched woman who has forced upon her a “hateful gift.” Alatiel, as she calls this maligned force, appeared to Helen to be nothing more than a vulnerable young woman when Julian Paradine introduced her to their circle of wannabe English bohemians. Helena tells herself that the interest her brother’s friends have in the destitute beauties they share for a time before discarding is purely artistic, even while harboring darker, more realistic suspicions.
Two men in their circle react strangely when Julian presents his new muse. Callum Flynn, a dreadful poet, leaves immediately and without explanation. Helena’s boyfriend and mediocre painter, Gabriel Holland, feigns concern for Flynn and backs away from the table with such suddenness that he knocks his chair over. Helena remains behind with Julian and their friend Daniele Navarro, who is given the first turn with the girl. From the moment that Julian takes Alatiel by the arm and pushes her forward for inspection by his friends, life for everyone who has seen the frail mute descends steadily into a hellish nightmare.
But the narrator hasn’t come across Helena’s tale by accident. The curse did not start at the artists’ table, or even with Julian’s flaky association with occult painter Cristian Salazar, whom the narrator knows to be Alatiel’s father. The narrator is the one who angered the Salazar family, and he is the one upon whom the young demon is taking revenge.
Set in England, in the late 19th century, The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar is a gothic novella in the tradition of Edgar Allen Poe. The silent muse is creepy in the way only corruption masked by innocence can be. The men of the story are rounded out in tiny degrees as gentlemen, artists, monsters, fools, cowards, and perverts, each of them utterly human. Helena is none of these things, save human, but it doesn’t matter. The narrator cares about her; for Alatiel, that’s more than cause enough to punish her.
The author’s voice lends the prose an old feel, as if it were written a hundred years ago. Additionally, the writing is simple and clear. If Katriel has made any missteps with the Victorian setting or language, the flow will keep the casual reader (read: not students of period literature) from taking notice.
Additionally, the author chooses his words carefully, managing to convey gruesome scenes in ways that allow the reader to decide how disturbed they want to be by them. For instance, I avoid sexual violence in fiction. I don’t handle it well. The rape that takes place in Portrait is written in such a way that I was through it before put together that was in fact what had taken place. The gravity of the incident builds as aftermath, so it’s no less awful than it should be, but the rape itself is handled extremely delicately. I found that every disturbing scene of the story was handled with similar care.
Steven Katriel is a talented writer with a great future. I would recommend The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar to fans of Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.