I will start this review by saying that I unapologetically loved this novella. It was a quick read, a compulsive page turner written in a dense, rich prose style, but still very well in line with conventional horror prose. This is a thoroughgoing piece of Cosmic horror, but not written in such a way that will pose any conceptual roadblocks for the non Lovecraft initiated.
And this is precisely why I love it.
While I love Lovecraftian Mythos fiction, I see a particular brilliance in the ability to synthesize the ideas and prose into a new thing. Mythos without mythos, the very texture of the prose becoming as much a part of the story as the characters and setting.
You know those bands that somehow make songs out of feedback and distortion while still demonstrating the ability to play their instruments? This is the literary equivalent of that.
That said, what’s in this book? Well, it’s a pretty dark place, the village of Marchwood. It’s cold and damp and always rains, the kind of place only viewed from between the beats of your windshield wipers on your way to someplace else. The kind of place most of us know about. We all did time in a place like Marchwood, and could ever imagine ending up back there unless there was no where else to go.
Our protagonist, Ben, is back after losing his wife. Did she get killed? Did she run off? He doesn’t know, but either way, he’s lost it all, and he’s back in his old hometown of Marchwood. While this story is set in rural England, this could just as easily be Nowhereville, USA. And it begins as soon as he arrives, a slow but steady unraveling of an already haggard normalcy…
I won’t spoil and I don’t do recaps, but you get the idea. Especially well written small town horror where the place is every bit as much of a character as the characters. Add to that the Cosmic horror aspect and you’ve got a great read. Highly recommended.