31 Shots of Shock: #8 – ‘Two Steps Along the Road’ by Terry Dowling

*Title: ‘Two Steps Along the Road’ by Terry Dowling.
Date Read: 08 October 2010
Available Online?: NO (available in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 (Constable & Robinson))
Briefly: A paranormal researcher arranges to spend a few days at the isolated Hotel Dis to investigate claims that a man’s daughter who has apparently returned alive and well after it was feared that she had perished in a plane crash, is not the daughter at all but actually a ‘shape-shifted’ incarnation of a formerly established ‘house ghost’.
Afterthoughts: Well, it’s not every day that you read a ghost story which begins with a boat trip along the Mekong River. This one does and as a consequence it brings something of the cosmopolitan to the story; a touch of the exotic. All in all it turns out to be not a bad tale too, and although one has to take one’s time reading it in order to pick up on a prose which is a little more technical than most, it’s well worth the effort. The scares are genuinely creepy and Dowling also adds a nice touch by visiting, albeit briefly, some of the supernatural lore that exists (I think) in Vietnam.
Notable Quote: It was her smile that completed the effect. It was too full, too generous, more a manic grin below that narrow, intense gaze, like someone barely able to contain a secret, knowing something hilarious and about to burst into laughter.

Rating: ★★★½☆

*Story read as part of my 31 Shots of Shock reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. This sounds good.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      It’s the exoticness of this story that made it work for me (although I would imagine it wouldn’t seem to exotic to anyone from Vietnam reading it)