I will imagine that to many of you reading this blog are of a certain age. And with this age there will always be that era of golden memories, of simpler times, where the summers where endless and the potential for adventure was limitless. To me, and judging by the this novella, the mid 1980's was that era, to myself and Steven Savile. Those of you who are too young to remember, or too old to have lived through this point in time as a teenager, have too understand that it was in many ways a magical time, but one that was tinged by a sense of darkness as well. With this novella Steven Saville has managed to capture this magical, yet darkness tinged feeling wonderfully.
Shiftling, tells the story of what happened when the funfair came to Ashthorpe. The narrative it's is told from two different time frames. The first of which tells the story of what happened up to the events that happen at the funfair, and the second thread is set in modern times and deals with the aftermath of what happened that fateful day. Other than that I'm not going to say too much about more about the plot.
What I am going to talk about in this review, is the emotions and feelings stirred up by this fantastic novella. A lot of you may know that one of my all time favourite books is The Halloween Tree, of which the beginning of this novella reminds me of. Steven's descriptions of gang of friends and all stuff that they do to raise money for the fair, are full of the same evocative sense of wonder and joy. He paints the gang with such vivid strokes that you cannot help yourself from wanting to be in the gang. There is a real sense of friendship, fun and brotherly love between them. And when the funfair rolls into town, the sights, smells and sounds of it seep of the page straight into your subconscious. These sections of the book are full of the same wondrous joy that makes The Halloween Tree so special.
However, the good times cannot go on forever, and when a prank at the funfair goes horribly wrong, the lives of the gang and in particular, Drew will never be the same. Years later, Drew receives a mysterious phone call that drags him back to a nightmare he wishes he never remembered about. It is here in the present day that the horror of what happened all those years ago is finally revealed in all it's it dark and twisted splendour.
Shiftling is a story of story of two stories, that meld together to form a brilliant, exciting and emotional story, that will appeal to all readers of dark fiction, and one that will resonate perfectly with those of a certain age.
The Book is released in August from the rather fine Dark Fuse. Check out some of the other excellent books coming from them here