Having just read this book I wanted to share a few thoughts:
The Smell of Cedar is an unsettling and unnerving psychological horror story made all the more believable by its backstory of abuse and control. For me the length is just right, with moments of reflection which help to not only explain the lead character’s past but also move the story along at a good pace.
River’s use of a nonlinear structure is both effective and skillfully employed and his careful use of description allows the reader to create a vivid scene whilst reading the story. At times I was not certain as to whether tense changes worked quite as effectively as they might have, but this is a minor issue and I am being, perhaps, a little pedantic.
I do think, however, that the actions of the character Melanie, to whom we are introduced early on in the story, and which become clearer as the tale develops, add to the chilling (and all too real) possibility of history repeating itself.
If you enjoy short, chilling and disturbing stories, then I would certainly recommend reading this.