A Necessary End: The Curse of Courtenay opens with Grimwald, the goblin servant, lurking about the ominous Courtenay house, setting the mood for the rest of Blay’s creepy, contemporary gothic story, the third in a series set in this universe. I was not familiar with the other two books before reading this sequel, but Chris Tetreault-Blay’s well-crafted writing communicates characterization and backstory in vivid anecdotes inserted within the frame story without the slightest hint of plot drag.
Protagonist Zach is a reluctant transplant from America to an unnamed town in U.K.. He’s a senior in high school and his parents have relocated the family for career purposes. As an emerging artist, he is inexplicable drawn to the peculiarity of the Courtenay House, feeling as though it is “looking at” him, and “the thought [brings] him comfort for a moment,” so he decides to investigate. He, and therefore, we as the reader, learn of the Courtenay family’s “fate that has befallen” them with a rehashing of their legacy by the house’s patriarch through a series of short stories. From then on, the novel reads much like a horror version of Sheherazade’s series of epic tales, each one both providing a piece of the Courtenay family puzzle and staying Zach’s exit from the house in order to hear another. As the tales become more and more gory, it is clear Zach has made a poor choice in his curiosity, as the question is no longer when the fifteen-year old will leave the house, but if he will at all. Bravo to Blay: Necessary End is a delicious chiller that will appeal to supernatural horror and dark short story collection lovers alike.