Recently released by DarkFuse publishing in their ongoing series of limited signed and numbered novellas, we have this little entry from prolific powerhouse UK horror writer, Gary Fry. In this story we have Meg, who has moved to a countryside residence with her upwardly mobile husband, following the tragic stillborn death of their unplanned baby. At least to Meg, it seems a tragedy, whereas her husband Harry, appears to possibly favour this turn of events. While recuperating in a remote cliff-side house near Whitby (yes, that Whitby), Meg is beset by odd dreams, thoughts, paranoid suspicions about Harry, strange sounds and visions, and a growing obsession with a local abandoned mine...
In what is a relatively short work, Fry manages to cram in domestic disharmony, the sharp grief for the loss of a child, social and economic issues, the shadow of history and much more. Maybe 'cram' is the wrong word, though because it doesn't feel like there's too much going on. It's a sentence here, or a paragraph there that presents these different aspects as part of the whole story. And while the story is about more than the monster, what a monster it is. Like something born from a nightmare collusion between H. P. Lovecraft and the grimier aspects of The Human Centipede, you have a creature that is haunting, offensive and genuinely alien. A very interesting monster that hints and alludes to a bigger mythology than I explored in the book, something that is a personal love of mine. Clive Barker used to do it so well, Gary McMahon has managed to pull it off on a number of occasions and now, it seems, Gary Fry is mining this seam (do you like what I did there?).
The prose is great and there are some real choice words on display. It flows very well and if there's one criticism or disappointment for me, it's that it seems to end quite abruptly. I'm all for ambiguous endings, got no issues there, but I felt that this one sort of took us to a specific point and then just...stopped. But it's a minor point and I really did like the story. So much so, that I actually had a weird dream with the monster in it...not a nightmare as such, but definitely something I wouldn't want to repeat.
A solid 8 out of 10.
Review by Paul M. Feeney
Meg and Harry have retreated to a remote cottage on the northeast coast of England to recuperate from the mental and physical stress of losing their baby. While exploring the ancient coastal landscape, Meg chances upon eighteenth-century quarry mines reclaimed by nature. But birds and butterflies aren't all she finds.
When a young woman goes missing, Meg must try to make sense of her many bizarre experiences: muddy handprints on the walls, savage dreams, and a visit from a stranger who may not be what she seems.
And something else is lurking nearby, something that adapts and feeds on grief. And Meg may not be able to stop it…
"Fry's mastery of Lovecraft's mythos is in full display in this novella and is a fresh and original take on the themes." —Examiner
Paul M. Feeney
Paul M. Feeney has been watching horror films since he was a young, impressionable boy and before the lunatic hysteria reached his parent's censorship. This transferred to the written word when he was sixteen and read his first Stephen King book. He hasn't looked back since (except to check over his shoulder that there aren't any monsters following...).
The past few years have seen him turn his hand to the writing of his own fiction, in the arena of horror and the supernatural. He expects to be published soon, wit fame and riches following soon after...