Loved it! 😍

An intensely dark and frightening look at the familial ties that bind us and the darkness that can attach itself to our very souls.

"She eats your despair."

These haunting words are repeated throughout Mike Dineen's cinematic tale of a family torn apart by the secrets they have struggled to keep and their inability to protect themselves from the infection that such secrets inevitably cause. Joanna Smith, or Jo, is a successful writer of thrillers and mystery novels who maintains mystery in her own life by writing only under a pseudonym, inspired by the name of her family home. Keeping others at a distance seems to be second nature for Jo, and it is made immediately clear that this is how she prefers to live her life. Haunting flashbacks and looks into her childhood, especially the violent and terrifying relationship with Diane, her mother, explain Jo's hesitancy to be open and trusting of those around her.

When she is called home by her twin sister Amanda, Jo is forced to confront the place and the people she left behind and her own guilt at having done so. However, the homecoming quickly derails into a terrifying fight for her life when Amanda and Jo are chased by mysterious figures and creatures in the dense forest around their childhood home. Dineen paints a visceral image of the tense stillness of the pines and the overwhelming feeling of loneliness found therein. However, what begins as a thrilling mystery quickly devolves into a Lovecraftian horror when Jo realizes that the forces at work are much older and more nefarious than she had first thought. When she is finally confronted with the truth of what lies beneath and within the walls of her childhood home, Jo realizes that she will never outrun or hide from the swelling darkness that now infects her. Instead, she must find the solution and her own salvation within herself, and more specifically, within the pages of her own writing.

Dineen takes care with establishing a protagonist who develops naturally on the page and does not bother with unnecessary exposition, preferring instead to tease the reader with the clues that they will need to piece together this frightening mystery. There are some truly horrible and disturbing images and scenes in this story, making it effective as a horror story for those readers who seek to expose themselves to a truly frightening experience.

Latcher is a story that explores the darkness that can fester within family histories and the responsibilities we have to each other. The importance of these ties is examined against a monstrous background which only serves to illuminate further the evil that humans can generate when they are afraid, even without the help of supernatural or malevolent forces.

Reviewed by

Reader, writer, feminist, teacher, mother, wife, and hater of bios. I am a mix of southwestern Anglo protestants and northern French Canadians, and I have never found a perfect balance between the two. I reside in Southwestern Ontario with my husband, two children, one doodle and a tuxedo cat.


About the author

Mike Dineen grew up in small-town Southwestern Ontario where he spent his childhood wandering the nearby woods, reading and watching all things horror, and dreaming of one day writing novels of his own. LATCHER represents his dream-come-true debut horror novel. Mike lives in Hamilton, Ontario. view profile

Published on August 27, 2021

90000 words

Contains graphic explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Horror

Reviewed by