My horror novel, Contrition, was released on 3 September 2018 in Australia/UK and New Zealand. The North American release is scheduled for November 2018.
In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive…
John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.
Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.
[Cover design by Bram Stoker Award-winning illustrator Greg Chapman.]
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EXAMPLES OF READER REVIEWS
Anne (Facebook): Hi Deborah I just finished reading ” Contrition” & I loved it😁
So many twists, turns, & shocks! I love the characters, you have a talent bringing your characters to life, making them believable. Another thrilling tale from a master of horror writing 👏👏
Robyn O’Sullivan 5/5 stars (Goodreads): Contrition is another high-pressure horror story from Deb Sheldon. When we meet John Penrose, we learn that he is moving house, lives alone, and likes gardening. Before long, we also learn that John has a secret and, in order to keep this secret, he has to tell lies and maintain his life in an orderly routine. Then John meets Donna and he begins to imagine he can have a life with her. That’s when the lies, the routine, and the secret all spin out of control. This is a real page-turner with an end that is beyond extraordinary!
Allen James 5/5 stars (Goodreads): Very creepy. Great characters. Unexpected twists and turns. The pacing ramped up nicely and each chapter left on a cliffhanger. I didn’t see the end coming but when it did it made sense.
Anne Mccluskey 5/5 stars (Goodreads): “Contrition” is another gem from Deborah Sheldon. The storyline is brilliant & intriguing as the characters are built up. There are plenty of twists & shocks, that kept me enthralled to the end. Once again, Deborah has written a story unlike any other – this one is another wonderful feast of horror from her pen. As always, this story makes me want to read more of Deborah Sheldon’s work.
Stephanie 4/5 stars (Goodreads): Very dark and very grim. Not an easy read at times as you begin to discover what Meredith, former lover of the main character, John Penrose has become. Believing himself guilty of an appalling crime, John looks after Meredith as an act of penance despite the suffering her actions cause him. During this time, he spirals into alcoholism whilst being in a state of self-denial until he finds, at last, a woman who can give his life real meaning. If only he didn’t have Meredith lurking in the background …
Alyson Rhodes 5/5 stars (Goodreads): This is the latest horror/thriller from Australian writer Deborah Sheldon, just published on 3 September 2018 from IFWG Publishing and is available on amazon to purchase. Sheldon has created a seemingly ordinary Mr Average, John Penrose, as her protagonist, however it becomes clear very quickly (and at 240 pages there is no extra fat on the bone in this tale) he lives a not so ordinary life. He might have a boring dead end job, rent in the suburbs, no friends and no social life and drink too much beer, but he has an extraordinary secret lodging with him. Both literally sharing his rental home and sharing his back story, set 30 years previously, which still casts long toxic shadows into the present day.
The unravelling of the past when the young, shy college lad John Penrose meets and becomes entwined in the lives of the twins Lyle and Meredith Berg-Olsen, both of whom he loves in different ways but with deadly consequences, is slotted in beside the current day narrative describing John’s tedious existence – moving from rental house to rental house, when issues arise with Meredith and her behaviour.
John still loves his Merry, he still sees her with the eyes of his first teenage love, but to us the reader, it is apparent Meredith is not the girl she once was and John is blinded by devotion. Sheldon cleverly gives us clues and hints, but avoids the full reveal about what ails Meredith, until the climax, which is exciting and well constructed and takes an unexpected turn in the last few pages.
A neighbour, a single mother, Donna with a daughter in tow, takes a shine to John, and they begin a sweet gentle courtship but in the neighbourhood animals keep going missing, Meredith never goes out of the house in daylight hours, a ‘witch’ is seen outside Donna’ s windows and John learns new facts about his past from an old school mate now working for a circus performing in town. The mundanities of life are being undermined.
John has a truly unnerving night time encounter with Meredith’s homeless friend, Sebastian, which has John racing for his life through the suburb’s back gardens. Meanwhile at home the tension mounts. Long before John asks the killer questions, we the reader are suspicious – of Meredith and her hobby boxes and of what did happen that summer day with Lyle down by the river, for which John has carried a lifetime of ‘Contrition’ and provides the motivations for all that he does thereafter.
This is a pacy, exciting read with strong horror content and some gruesome scenes which are well written but not for the faint hearted reader. If you don’t like shocks and scares this is not for you. There are noir currents at play here too, John Penrose is very much a man trapped by his femme fatale and one fateful act carried out one long ago summer’s day, which changed his life and from which he cannot get out from under. The guy just never catches a break. You’re hoping he will turn things around, but just for like Elisha Cook, Jnr in all those noir B movies of the 1940’s, you know deep down, it’s not going to happen.