Well, James Hampton has bottled lightning at least twice. I really enjoyed his "Letters To A File" story, and chose "Slocombe's Pond" for my next read; again, what a great story.
The tale consists of a group of kids - one of whom is the narrator - who are undergoing a rite of passage, an initiation into teenage-years, of spending some time standing, covered in animal blood and chicken guts, in Slocombe's Pond, a dark and scary place where people have dissapeared amid rumours of monsters.
The story drew me in from the first few paragraphs, and I enjoyed reading the carefully-crafted prose. Earlier that day, I had once again found myself struggling to really get into a story I was reading, a story in a proper, published book. I often think it's me, that I'm not giving the story enough attention, that my mind's going fuzzy, that I'm losing the ability to visualise what I'm reading. But then when a story comes along such as "Slocombe's Pond" and reading becomes effortless and highly enjoyable, I thank writers like James Hampton for assuring me that I'm not losing my brain.
There is no question this is a 5-star story. It's pretty long but never flags, is realistic, believable, full of mystery and has a satisfying ending. The stuff with the kids is evocative of Stephen Kings "It!" or "The Body", and the monsters are more credible for not being too outlandish.
The writing is great; good easy-to-read prose which never breaks the hold on the story; one particular sentence, I liked, clever and well done was "Maybe one patch of forest at least was rooting for us to survive.", but to really understand what that's all about, you'd have to read the story.
Just to be complete, there were one or two very minor niggles; at one point in the story there are seven characters in a scene, and they, only slightly, got a bit muddled in my head. And the title is great, I wouldn't change it, but sometimes I couldn't get out of my head the TV series "Are You Being Served", and thinking about Mrs. Slocombe's Pussy!!! [but that's probably just me]
In short, I loved it and would reccomend it to everyone. I will be reading more of James Hampton's work when time allows.
(review of free book)