Here’s another new review of What They Hear in the Dark, this time posted on Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review… enjoy!
Who says that horror is a dead genre? Leisure Fiction may have done their best to kill it off in the US, and the current deluge of Urban Fantasy doesn’t leave it what’s left a lot of room on the bookshelves, but it’s still there for those of us who know where to look. Spectral Press is the latest small publisher to give the genre a shot in the arm with its release of limited edition chapbooks dedicated to the ghostly and supernatural. ‘What they hear in the dark’ is actually Spectral Press’ first publication and definitely bodes well for the future…
After their young son’s murder, Rob and Becky bought the old house as a way of trying to save their marriage by building something new. It was never going to be as easy as that though, some cracks were never meant to be papered over and the couple’s relationship is at a breaking point.
Then Rob and Becky find a room in the house that was never in the plans, a room that swallows all sound and leaves you with only your own thoughts for company. A room where demons can either be exorcised or given free rein…
I’ve never read a chapbook before so was interested to see that ‘What they hear in the dark’ is only twenty-one pages long. The shortest books I normally read are around the three to four hundred page mark so it was a real change to read something that would literally take as long to read as it would take to have a cup of coffee (I drink coffee that I make very quickly!)
‘What they hear in the dark’ initially came across as very rushed with the ending arrived at before you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with the beginning. I’m writing that off as my unfamiliarity with the chapbook format though, it is only twenty-one pages long after all! A second read through really paid dividends though.
You may not have much of a chance to get to find out much about Rob and Becky but what McMahon does do is build up an oppressing ‘haunted house’ atmosphere in a very short space of time, working this around Rob and Becky’s very differing feelings over their son’s death. Things are sign posted very clearly but this somehow adds to the overall tension that arises as things progress. You know what’s happening, Rob and Becky don’t, but there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The ending is particularly chilling as one of the couple finds out the worst possible consequences of bringing your own ghosts to the Quiet Room. It was at this point that I was literally holding my breath and McMahon cruelly ends the story in such a way that I had to release that breath just after finishing.
Gary McMahon is fast becoming a horror writer to look out for and ‘What they hear in the dark’ is a fine example of his natural skill in this field; a tale that creeps up on you and has it’s claws in you before you know it. Grab it if you can.
Nine out of Ten
P.S. I wouldn’t normally post links to buy books but these chapbooks are very limited edition (only a hundred at a time being printed I think) and you will miss out if you’re not careful – I think I might have to take out a subscription.