The Truest Sense by Laura Keating


Important Note: I kept things spoiler free, so read without worry.


The Truest Sense is a collection that feels like a throwback to the excellent horror I grew up with in the 90s. Reading through these tales reminded me of coming home from school to watch an episode of Goosebumps, or daring to read from In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. The cover (done by Chad Wehrle) even evokes the haunting artwork of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. There’s also a tremendous sense of fun to many of these tales. In terms of tone, this collection reminded me of the Stephen King and George A. Romero classic, Creepshow. Suffice it to say, you will have a good time inhabiting the spooky landscapes and disturbed minds conjured up by Laura Keating.

All the stories in The Truest Sense are worth your time, but I especially enjoyed “Final Notes on the Failed Expedition to the Sixth Theater,” “Forgetting Leviathan,” “It’s a Helluva Thing, Bill,” “When You Reach the Lighthouse,” and “Moon Rocks on Mars.” I also need to give a special shoutout to “Recipe Cards of Miss Grace Procktor, with Notes,” just for being a horror story told via a series of recipes. From a quick glance at the publication history, it appears all of these are original to The Truest Sense, so if you’re a publisher who does reprint publications, you need to get on acquiring a few of these gems for your audience!

A key component of most of my favorite stories was how time was used to great effect. Whether a protagonist was losing time, the story was jumping around in time, or things just progressed in an unusual manner, I found myself fascinated by Keating’s ability to weave a story without relying on the traditional flow of time or A to B causality. This ties into my next point. I think the thing I enjoyed most about Keating’s prose was her mastery of providing just enough detail to keep her horrors suggested rather than outright revealed.

In addition, several of the tales in The Truest Sense maintain a dreamlike atmosphere throughout, and you’re left wondering what was real. This is especially true of Keating’s stories where she puts you in the head of an unreliable narrator. There are also great insights into life. One line that struck a chord with me was relayed after a teen car accident: “Everyone was sad that they were dead, but excited that they had been killed.” This feels tragically true of all horrors in the social media age as people rush to engage with the worst news because it’s more exciting than a slow news day.

I didn’t go into overt detail on the various stories found within The Truest Sense because I wanted to keep this review spoiler free, but I noted several possible influences that potential readers might be interested to read about. Stephen King is obviously a huge one, but there’s also bits of Alex Garland’s Annihilation, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (78 is my preferred take), and It Follows, to name a few. Lastly, Keating is a master of describing seaside settings, presumably drawing from her real-life experience living around the coasts of eastern Canada. Fans of nautical horror tales like The Lighthouse and The Fog will find a lot of love in The Truest Sense.

You can pre-order a copy of The Truest Sense here, and you can learn more about the author by checking out my recent interview with Laura Keating.


Author Interview with Laura Keating

Welcome back to my author interview series. Many thanks to Laura Keating for taking some time to answer these questions. After you’re done reading this interview, why not check out my early review of her latest work, The Truest Sense? Without further ado, let’s get to the discussion.



1. What made you start writing horror?

I’ve always loved horror, but I forgot that for a while. When I started writing as a teenager, I wrote what I was reading mostly at the time: fantasy & sci-fi. The stories went nowhere. When I was in my mid-twenties, I was going through a challenging period in my life. I was working as a waitress and one day, fresh off the lunch shift, as I walked around downtown Fredericton to kill time until my ride could take me home, I decided I wanted a new author to read, someone with a lot of work out so I could binge their catalogue. I went into The Owl’s Nest (RIP to the best used bookstore there ever was) and found a whole shelf of Stephen King books. I’d read two before: Carrie and The Gunslinger and had loved both. I bought The Shining and ‘Salem’s Lot with some of the tips I’d made that day. I blew through those books. It was like a bomb went off in my brain and the fallout was remembering how much I’d LOVED spooky horror as a kid (Are You Afraid of the Dark, Tales from the Crypt Keeper, everything Halloween) – until I’d been mocked in middle school for being ‘morbid’ and had shoved that passion away. I started reading/watching all the horror classics I could get ahold of from the library & Owl’s Nest. I abandoned the YA fantasy novel I’d been writing and started on a new horror short story, something I’d never done before. “We Are Giants” got published for fifty bucks – but it was fifty dollars more than I’d ever made from writing in my life. I never looked back.


2. What is your favorite tool (vocabulary, commas, dialogue, flashback, etc.) in your writer’s toolbox? 

I love dual timelines, playing with the then and now. I grapple a lot with the idea that a story is never finished – and that it usually starts much further back than any character involved can really reckon, and often without their knowing. Toying with the way people remember or forget their own pasts, and the pasts of others, is my favourite creative springboard to dive from.


3. Besides Roland Deschain, who is your favorite character in Stephen King’s epic Dark Tower series and why?

I’m so glad you asked this question, because I’m a bonafide Tower Junkie.

And the answer is Eddie Dean. He has the greatest arc and the best lines of the series. Who doesn’t love a cheeky, flawed hero? (And of the flawed heroes of literature, how many others have killed a psychopathic, artificially intelligent, supersonic train with a Dead Baby joke? That’s how you shoot with your mind, sai.)

Honorable mention to Oy. Who wouldn’t love that little Billy-Bumbler as a pal?


4. What should readers know about your most recent or upcoming work (or works) and where can they find your writing? 

THE TRUEST SENSE, my collection of horror fiction is going to be loosed upon the world June 11th. It is an eclectic collection (think “Dark Carnival” , think “Night Shift”) and is my love-letter to horror as a genre. Cemetery Gates Media is publishing, and Chad Wehrle did the incredible art for the cover.

AGONY’S LODESTONE, my debut release, is a novella that was published by Tenebrous Press last year (2023, for you future folks). It follows a trio of siblings who, upon discovering an old videotape, are drawn to a nature park to investigate the 20-year-old disappearance of their eldest sister. There, they must grapple with the spectral forces around them and confront the ways their lives diverged and broke after her loss.

You can find all my work listed on my website, or you can follow me for frequent updates on Twitter, Tiktok, and Instagram @lorekeating.



If you’d like to read an early review of The Truest Sense, check out my spoiler free thoughts here.