The blurb suggests Within Wet Walls was inspired by M.R. James and Dickens. While I agree with these comparisons I was also reminded of ‘The House onThe blurb suggests Within Wet Walls was inspired by M.R. James and Dickens. While I agree with these comparisons I was also reminded of ‘The House on Rue Chartres’ by Richard A. Lupoff and Lisa Mannetti’s best work. Of course the style is the author’s own, devised and honed over the years as a writer and her work as editor on February Femmes Fatales, Thrills, Kills and Chaos and Ganglion Press. Lily Childs may finally be be on the point of her own literary breakthrough and may look back one day to recognize this publication as the catalyst of that turning point.
When you travel with Lundy you’ll be blindfolded with fear as you come closer to the manor. The recesses of cruelty seep through the walls of Wealdstone House falling in pools of horror and desire. The water ripples with the hum of a song. The melody twists through nearby woods leaving stains of music hanging from winter branches. A route that leads you to a story of another age. If you choose to follow the whispered aria make sure you wrap up warm because Lily Childs types with fingers of ice that refuse to melt even when they dig into your subconscious mind.
The book is a quick trip at only 30 pages long; compact for effect and easy to read in one short sitting. A perfect fireside read for these cold and windy nights, or by candlelight at Christmas.
It's obvious that the passing of Joel Lane in 2013 not only left a canyon in the hearts of so many who loved him, but it also left a crevice once destIt's obvious that the passing of Joel Lane in 2013 not only left a canyon in the hearts of so many who loved him, but it also left a crevice once destined to be filled with his stories now untold. On his blog McMahon suggests The Night Just Got Darker was never intended to be published, it was in fact the result of grief and that helplessness one feels when trying to understand the sudden loss of somebody you love. I’m glad he was persuaded to let others read this piece, to set it free into the wild and often scary world. Because this is a fitting tribute. It’s terrifying in its suggestions, it’s realistic in its social commentary and it’s also very personal; the journey of a man trying to hold things together when he knows in his heart they have already been washed from his hands.
The story focuses on the narrator, a typical suburban man with a house in a nice part of town, a mundane job that pays the bills and a wife cast ashore from their childless marriage. Gary McMahon weaves an unnerving series of events through the collapse of the narrator’s relationship and colours the set pieces with strokes of dark hues. The result is a story that pulls the reader in like discovering your swimming teacher has suddenly guided you into the deep end of the pool and is waving your armbands in the air.
The ennui of his situation pitches the mood perfectly for the world in which the narrator finds himself. A Hitchcockian device manipulated to great effect here – Innocuous spying on a neighbour across the street results in a spiraling journey into the heart of terror.
The neighbour in the window is a writer, but his stories don’t deal with normal plots. He tries to convince that his words and his tales are more important than that. We’ve all encountered writers who felt the same and the narrator backs away just as we would at a party. But the author’s claims are true, it’s not the ranting of an egotist at all and he has something terrifying in store to prove it. He writes a plot that upturns the life of his neighbour and the direction of McMahon’s story with a flick of vertigo.
Gary McMahon deals with huge issues in this short tale. He’s not afraid to throw down the chair and whip to let us glimpse into the lion’s mouth. While the social commentary, or rather social observation as there are really no answers here as in real life, is bleak it’s also very honest. There are times this story feels grubby, dusted with industrial pollution and industrialised relationships. But among the darkness and grime shines a purity. McMahon never offers hope for mankind, he merely observes the absence of rectitude in the people who inhabit and contaminate the world. That’s what makes this account so authentic. The author writes with such sharp quality it’s as though he’s lacerating the page with his words.
This hugely impressive story concludes towards a stark reality while playing with the tenets of fiction. It’s this duel of story against realism that offers strong shoulders to carry this tale. As in life we never truly know what is real and what is a conceit; the illusions of comfort, of love, of safety and of life can all be collapsed with a quick pull of a rug. Possibly The Night Just Got Darker is a wake-up call, a rallying cry to live, to be accountable for the world around us. Perhaps it’s a warning of the inevitable.
While the story is soaked with grief of one sort or another; of lost lives, lost chances and eventually the loss of everything, it’s also about waking the ghost. The night that awaits the narrator drunk and disorientated in another city without recall is alarming. Yet it also tells of the flip of a coin that life can be, and is more often than we care to admit to ourselves. It’s may appear to be an existential question but it’s deeper than that. It’s asking not just who we are but how we are. Does free will or divinity shape our lives. If it’s the latter then who is playing God?
Whichever way you read it you’ll be sure to feel a stone dropping inside your heart. This isn’t the sort of horror I’d tell you to read with the lights on, or to keep your feet and fingers inside the covers when you fall asleep, just in case. There are no comforters for this kind of horror. There is no safe place you can hide while turning up the lights to keep the shadows from dancing on your walls as you fall into your dreams. Because this atavistic horror. Horror that always was and always will be.
So cover yourself if you wish. Hide your face under the duvet if you think it may help. Turn up the lights if you want. But none of that will help because The Night Just Got Darker.
Mutator by Gary Fry and published by DarkFuse is a story of discovery, or finding things concealed in the darkness. James Parry a retired professor moMutator by Gary Fry and published by DarkFuse is a story of discovery, or finding things concealed in the darkness. James Parry a retired professor moves to a new home in the country along with his instinctive beagle Damian and discovers the idyll he craves after a life of hard work in academia. The house and bucolic surroundings offer all the peace and privacy he needs. But if Gary Fry’s story takes you to a peaceful Yorkshire village you know the walls of quiet solitude will be smashed soon enough.
Often I’ll mention how shorter work ends too quickly without giving enough space to explore its themes. Or I’ll say it extended slightly when a more abrupt conclusion would have reinforced the overall story. Here Gary Fry has paced Mutator with a precise eye. The reader is introduced to the action quickly while the mysteries of the cosmic creature are unraveled with a patient yearning like unwrapping the final chocolate on Boxing Day.
Gary Fry has been called a Lovecraftian writer a lot. I think it’s time we started saying this style is Fryesque as he’s made it uniquely his own. Mutator is another example of why Gary Fry’s name is rising among the stars he fills with horrors.