Killing Sound

A supernatural horror story with some of the apparatus of science, this novel gets off to a shockingly violent start as five-year-old Jodie witnesses the death of her parents, seemingly the tragic outcome of her father’s experiments with sound. Twelve years on and Jodie has come to terms with – or suppressed – the trauma, that is until she and her boyfriend Luca start exploring her attic … 

When I started reading this book I was reminded of the Kate Bush song ‘Experiment IV’, about ‘a sound that could kill someone’. The premise – the apparent connection between infrasound and paranormal events – is intriguing and imaginatively rendered, with genuinely scary passages. The sense of unease and the blurring of boundaries between interior and exterior are well captured. If there is an obvious flaw it’s that Jodie’s bereavement is a little too reminiscent of a certain budding wizard’s. Consequently, when, 120 pages in, she discovers the real circumstances of her parents’ death, the moment, which should be revelatory, merely reads as an all-too-familiar trope.

A wonderful quote from nineteenth-century clergyman John Cummings supplies the book’s epigraph, and a warning of coming horrors, which culminate in hellish scenes in the London underground. Solemn it may be, but teenagers who don’t mind their reading unseasoned by humour will find Killing Sound an engrossing and perturbing experience. And with a not quite resolved ending things are set up for further shocks to come.