There are houses like this all over the world.....
What would you do if you lived in a house that allowed you peer into worlds where your loved ones hadn't died? In William Meikle's latest novella from Darkfuse that's the life that the tenants of this old Edinburgh house live. An old house where a totem and sigil allow them to bear witness to worlds where there loved ones haven't passed on. However when we stare into these worlds we really should be careful about what stares back. For not everything in these worlds is friendly, some things are are pure evil.....
Pentacle mixes Lovecraftian glimpses into worlds beyond our own filled with Stygian Pyramids populated with strange pig faced men with William Hope Hodgson haunted house motifs, all held together by Meikle's special brand of story telling. Meikle's voice and writing style is such that this novella, despite using themes that aren't wholly original still remains a fresh and enthralling read.
The strength of this novella lies in not what Meikle puts down on paper, but in what he leaves out. Where much of the story's sense of dread coming from the gaps between the words. This is particularly true when it comes to the characters. Even though we are never fully introduced to them, the reader still gets a feel for the residents of the house. Despite not knowing much about John the Concierge, other than he was a musician who has lost the love of his life, he still appears as a strong character, even the previous concierge, who we know even less about exists as more than just a character onto which some exposition can be hung. It this way in which the characters are created from the gaps between the words, where Meikle has created the real strength of the book. The reader is so invested in the story that they fill in the gaps.
The residents of the house feel as though they themselves are the ghosts of the house. They are so wrapped up in their mourning of their past lives that they are slowly fading away, become transparent and gossamer like, they are the hollow men and women. They have a rodent like timidness about them, and when things start to threaten their rigid way of existence all they can do is cower in their doorways like mice, hoping and praying that someone else will fix the problem. The way in which Meikle has crafted these characters gives them a Hodgson like feel, they have an air Victorian England around them despite being set nearer our time, which also adds to the sense of them being the true ghosts of the piece.
The Lovecraftian feel of the novel comes from the images and descriptions of the world of the Black Pyramid, Meikle's description of this world is both haunting and hypnotic, this Lovecraft inspired nightmare world will haunt your dreams, and your waking world, it will have you looking for the extra shadows, and listening for the grunts of the pigfaced men.
Pentacle is a perfect example of how a horror story can be fear inducing without having to resort to cheap literary equivalents of jump scares. The scares in Pentacle come from the insidious way in which Meikle subtly adds layers of dread. And the friction caused by the juxtaposition of the meek and timid residents of the house, with the gruff and animalistic pigfaced men results in the pages becoming electrified with tension.
The house is ready for you, but are you ready to cross the threshold?