Thomas Tryon’s day job was as an actor; he had a varied career in a number of films and some television, Disney. He acted under the name Tom Tryon and was that classically handsome leading man type. It’s said he grew bored with that and turned to writing. He’s probably more remembered for his second novel, HARVEST HOME(the TV miniseries starred Bette Davis), but I’m a fan of his first.
That was THE OTHER and what a novel indeed. More learned people than myself say it didn’t read like a first novel. I just know when I read it I was stunned at the writing and plotting. It was probably the first horror I’d read at that time(1971, I was twenty-two) except for some Ray Bradbury short stories.
Holand and Niles Perry were identical twin boys born twenty minutes apart, as different in mind as they were the same in body. Holand was born first, a difficult birth before midnight on a vernal equinox, Niles a smooth birth after midnight. Identical twins with different birth dates and astrological signs. Niles, an Aries, was warm, affectionate, a happy go lucky child. Holland, a Pisces, was dark and brooding.
They grew up on a Connecticut farm in the 1930s, their grandmother, Ada, the primary adult influence in their lives. Their father had died in an accident, their mother never getting over it, staying pretty much in her room most of the time.
The brothers, as different as night and day, were nevertheless inseparable. Their grandmother liked to play a game with them, The Sight, she’d brought from the old country. A psychological game that opened up hidden areas of the brain.
At the time of the novel, the boys are thirteen and one is never quite sure who the narrator is until near the end of the book.
A series of murders start up.
Who is responsible? Holand seems the logical suspect. But the brothers have a secret that no one else knows about. Tryon deftly moves the plot along, keeping one guessing, as a good writer should. A horror story that is also a suspense story.
As said earlier, THE OTHER wasn’t really like a first novel. It’s just deservedly come back into print after an absence of twenty years, with an introduction by Ramsey Campbell. Well worth checking out.