Being familiar with Ellis' other work, primarily The Asylum of Shadows,' which I had hugely enjoyed, when I saw the stellar cover art and the buzz around Bottled, I knew it was one I'd have to add to my collection.
I'm so glad I did.
The story is a haunting with a difference. Tyler, the protagonist, begins the book newly bereaved. We learn that his grandfather was a mean, torturous figure of fear for Tyler in his youth. His death has brought about feelings of relief and Tyler wants nothing more than to sell the old house and forget all about his experiences there. When a clause in the will makes it clear that he will have to spend the night in the house or wait a year for the place to become his, Tyler steps onto a rollercoaster he couldn't possibly have imagined.
The devices of the haunting themselves are wonderfully realised, with the house itself playing a role, along with the titular bottles - used to fascinating, creative effect.
There are twists and turns aplenty and a hugely satisfying ending, while Tyler's leaning on the crutch of the demon drink allows us to wonder how much of what is going on is real and how much is in his fragile, traumatised mind.
A great read!
Bottled is one of those unique takes in horror that make you sit up and take notice. Ellis is a gifted storyteller, and weaves a compelling tale of a family's secret skill, the house that holds it, and the gift and curse that come to the next in line. There is some serious, deep horror here (gah, those beetles, y'all) and some touching character study. The legend here is unlike anything else I've read, and Ellis does a wonderful job of pulling the reader in and carrying them through to the sinister end in short novella form.