Stephanie Ellis’ Bottled tells the story of Tyler, a divorced alcoholic and father to a son he rarely sees. His childhood was one marred by abuse, neglect, and the unexplained disappearance of his father, most of which occurred within the walls of his grandfather’s large home. The only solace he had came from tiny, living worlds kept in glass bottles. After his grandfather’s passing, Tyler is made to return to the house where so much of his suffering took place, and he learns the dark secrets kept bottled within its walls.
The idea was an exciting one, one I don’t believe I’d really come across before. Ellis certainly has a way with imagery, and the bleak conditions of the house and Tyler’s upbringing are incredibly vivid. And that cover, it’s hard not to get drawn in! I enjoyed the premise, but the novella itself felt too long for what the core of it was. The first two thirds of the book felt repetitive, reinforcing the same concepts over and over again. I struggled a bit to become invested in any of the characters, who I felt lacked likeability, and found it difficult to really care about whatever awaited them. The last third of the book, when things started to progress, did help me stay interested enough to see it through. I do wish a little bit more of an explanation had been provided about what exactly the process did and why they were doing it, but it had a solid ending that left me satisfied enough.
I believe this tale might have been better suited for a short story as opposed to a novella, but it certainly wasn’t a bad read. For people interested in slow burns, in-depth details, and dark family secrets, I think this book might suit very well.
I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review by Silver Shamrock Publishing.