Review by Brennan LaFaro
Whether Bottled or The Five Turns of the Wheel, Stephanie Ellis perpetually delivers with her Silver Shamrock releases. Paused is no exception.
Ellis takes a stunningly original and terrifying idea—what if we had to deal with a plague of unresponsiveness? People’s bodies shut down, but their minds continue to function as usual. Ellis introduces the idea from an outsider’s perspective, but it’s when she delves into the mind of a victim of this plague that the novella hits true horror territory.
Paused makes use of short chapters to deliver a book just shy of 120 pages that reads like a bullet thriller, keeping the reader turning pages and making it a real challenge to stretch this book across multiple sittings. There’s a tangible tension dropped in our laps and plucked like a guitar string as we join in the mystery of how this came to be, how it spreads, and how the characters we follow can avoid it.
Paused is a timely novella that references and has more than a few parallels with the pandemic we’ve lived with for two years now. At its heart is humanity, as Ellis refuses to relegate the story to the area of medical drama, focused on the humans locked inside their own bodies and the way that those around the world react to this strange phenomenon.
If you enjoyed Stephanie Ellis’ previous work, Paused is a worthy addition. If the author is new to you, this is a hell of a place to start.