Black Mamba by William Friend – Book Review

Black Mamba by William Friend is billed as a horror story, which is why I was intrigued. I don’t read a lot of true horror but the premise of twins that see mysterious figures is always going to draw me in. I love stories that feature twins as lead characters (I even did a whole post on the theme) and the twins in question here are seven-year-old Cassia and Sylvie.

Opening sentence: This morning, I heard the name Black Mamba for the first time, and it made me remember some dreams.

Who is Black Mamba?

The twins live with their father, Alfie, in London in the rather grand, Hart House. The house itself has a bit of a chequered history, which also comes into play in this story. The twins are grieving the tragic death of their mother, Pippa (who was herself a twin and died in the house they still live in) and start talking to an imaginary friend they call, Black Mamba.

Black Mamba is a man who can take any form of animal he chooses (yes, his namesake snake is one of those terrifying forms) and only the twins can see him.

Daddy, there’s a man in our room.

Real vs imaginary

What Black Mamba does so well is set the scene and play with our perception. Is there an intruder or other-worldly spirit the girls can see, or is it their active imaginations, perhaps as a reaction to their grief? The twins aunt, Julia is a child psychologist and reassures Alfie that it’s normal for children to have imaginary friends.

There’s something else. Something that isn’t coming from the girls. There’s something… external. Shaping their behaviour. I can feel it.

However, when Alfie starts to experience strange things too – how can he keep putting it all down to his daughter’s imagination?

While Black Mamba definitely had its creepy moments, I would put it more in the psychological thriller category than horror. Overall though, it was engrossing and so readable, I whizzed through it and enjoyed where it took me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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