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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review - The Other Room by James Everington

I took a look at James Everington's website after I'd seen an invitation on Kindleboards to write a piece for it in defence of the short story (and yes, I have, will mention it here when it's the turn of my piece to go up there). I saw James had put together a collection of his own short fiction together for Kindle, and then I saw the words 'influences' and 'Robert Aickman' and that was it, bought.

And I'm very glad I did.

The best weird fiction (horror, dark fantasy, whatever - post coming on that topic soon) stays with you. The stories lurk in your mind, unsettling, disturbing, like a flicker of movement in the corner of your eye. It's tribute to the excellence of the stories collected in The Other Room that a number of them will do just that. 

I'm not a fan of stories that focus on shock or gore to try and provoke an emotional response; the thoughtful, literate and disturbing stories in this collection take a subtler approach, creating an atmosphere of unsettling unease in the same way  Aickman's stories do, creating a world just like this one, but evoking a dawning realisation that in some way that world is profoundly, terribly, wrong.

The stories are rooted in the mundane horrors of contemporary society, which both makes them more unsettling and introduces a thoughtful element of commentary. Highlights are the title story, where a character who thinks that he has little in life finds out how much he has to lose, the excellent First Time Buyers, a disturbing story which has the feel of Ramsey Campbell's best stories without ever being pastiche, and The Watchers which starts with the notion of the male gaze and takes it somewhere else entirely. The pale and faceless creations of this collection are haunting, and haunted.

Highly recommended. Amazon (US | UK) for Kindle, at the time of writing it's 99c/68p.

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