Gary Fry is one of those people who seems to be able to make my bank balance decline at a very steady rate. not content with being an author of exceptional talent, he also runs the rather excellent Gray Friar Press. Conjure House is Gary's third novel, and the first to be published by the always reliable Darkfuse Press. Not to put any pressure on Gary, but this book has both the the reputation of Gary and Darkfuse to uphold.
Welcome to Deepvale.Like many isolated and quiet English villages, Deepvale has a dark and evil secret. A secret that has troubled the village for centuries. Centered around the house of the title, this house has been the focal point for many strange going ons, and the disappearance of many of the village's children.
Fifteen years ago, Anthony Mallinson's younger brother vanished inside the hose after a dare from Anthony and his friends. The disappearance of of brother weighed heavy on Anthony's conscience, driving him to study Psychology, and in particular, how individual perceptions and memories alter the truth about the facts. Drawn back to village after the brutal and senseless murder of his parents, Anthony soon recalls his friends from that fateful night fifteen years ago, to solve the mystery of what happened to both his parents and his brothers. However, something has awakened, something that has been dormant for years, something that wants to break out into our world.
Conjure House, is one of those books that on the surface sounds like a very simple tale of childhood friends returning to battle an ancient evil. You've all read at least a couple of these sort of books. Some of them work, a lot of them don't. Conjure House, is one of those books that not only works, but works wonderfully. Unlike many of these books, if you scratch below the surface you will find a rich vein of ideas, thoughts, theories and above all first class writing.
You see Fry is one of these horror writers that is capable of writing a book that is not only entertaining and chilling, but one that is also full of intelligent insights into our world and psyche. Conjure House is a wonderful slow burner of a novel, that slowly but surely builds up the terror and creep factors into a gripping story. Set mainly in the present I really enjoyed how Gary overlayed the Cosmic Horrors of the novel with the humdrum nature of daily life in an English village. Even the death of Anthony's parents can't upset the natural way of things of Deepvale.
Fry has also created a great cast of characters, yes Anthony is a psychologist, and many of the books themes of memories, art and and science hinge on this fact. however at no point does this feel forced. But folks this is a horror novel, and as a reader we want to be scared, and this is something that Fry has paid particular attention to. The slow burn nature of this novels horrors works brilliantly, Suman will end a shiver down your spine when he first revealed. This is creepy understated horror at its very best.
Conjure House is a brilliant novel that. It's one of those novels that captures the readers imagination and mind. and by the time you finish reading it, like me you will start paying attention to peoples hands.