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The Harlequin

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  43 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The armistice is months past but the memories won't go away. 'A harlequin, leaning against a tree stump and with a goblet of ale clasped in one outstretched hand. Beaumont felt chilled suddenly, in spite of the fire...Most likely it was the thing's mouth, red-lipped and fiendishly grinning, or maybe its face, which was white, expressionless, the face of a clown in full gre ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published September 30th 2015 by Sandstone Press Ltd
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  43 ratings  ·  10 reviews

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In the aftermath of the Great War, Dennis Beaumont returns to London a haunted man. He finds himself unable to successfully return to his previous existence. Carelessly unfaithful, capricious and misanthropic, Beaumont could easily be a loathsome protagonist, but somehow he's sympathetic – relatable, even. Perhaps it's the strong sense of his postwar disenchantment and trauma; perhaps it's simply that he's so very, horribly human.

Beaumont's London is luridly realised, a soup of misery peopled by
Seregil of Rhiminee
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Nina Allan's The Harlequin is a harrowingly dark novella that won The Novella Award 2015. It's one of the finest novellas I've read this year. It's a beautifully written and elegantly told story that kept me spellbound until the last word.

This novella has quiet and tender beauty that is nicely balanced by darkness and brutality. Because this kind of a combination has always appealed to me, I was impressed by the story and its atmosphere. I found the story tou
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written novella of almost perfect pace and length, detailing the return of a demobbed WWI soldier to an England he no longer recognises or feels part of; also, a subtly unnerving tale of uncanny, almost Faustian, events, capped with a subtly pitched ending.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More a contrivance than a yarn.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
At some point it seems every writer has a go at a World War I story. Although World War II was more recent, and killed more people, and had a more profound effect geopolitically, for some reason it’s the Great War which attracts the literateurs. It’s not like I can claim to be immune – I’ve written at least one short story set during WWI. But Allan’s The Harlequin is actually set immediately after the Armistice, when concious objector Dennis Beaumont, who drove an ambulance near the Front, retur ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A grim and somber (and freshly award-winning) novella about a man's return home from WWI. Haunted by specters real and possibly unreal, he struggles to adjust to a life that no longer fits, if it ever did. Written by one of the finest writers I've ever encountered, this story defies labels of horror and SF, while at the same time invoking those senses. Allan has this way of getting into the heads of her characters, of exploring completely and compactly, and, like her last acclaimed novel, The Ra ...more
Brent Hayward
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A subtle and disquieting story documenting a man's slide into madness and from there to darker places still. The characters are rich, real in their troubles, and the shift that transforms the tale is masterfully gripping.
Adam Nevill
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clever and imaginative speculative story about the catastrophic effects of war (Great War) on its survivors. Had I’d been told that this had been written in the 30s or 40s by one of the leading writers of the time, I’d have believed it.
Peter Haynes
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intricate, harrowing, demanding. The story of an unsettling peacetime nightmare experienced by a man who never escaped from the nightmare of war. An excellent read.
Unpleasant, in a good way.
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