Latest Nowhere Hall review

Good morning, on this extremely fine September 1st 2011!

This review is from Geoff Nelder, who runs the science42fiction blog and has also appeared at various other online places with his reviews. The write-up hasn’t appeared anywhere yet, but he’s given me permission to upload it in full here:

Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner

Reviewed by Geoff Nelder

Fiction writers are continually bludgeoned by their mentors to use ‘Show not Tell’, engineer three-dimensional characters, and to employ all the reader’s senses. Nowhere Hall is an exemplar, a masterclass in writing noir fiction. In particular of a story that creeps up on you using a psychological skewer. There are many stories where a house is as much a character as our protagonist. Most of them have ghosts, but Nowhere Hall is a unique venue. The reader is in there with Ron, both lured in by a surreal umbrella. The language is lurid, florid, alive – even when used to paint the non-living. I smiled in appreciation of the everyday observations made special such as: ‘If people sniggered, they covered their mouths. If they pointed, they gathered their shadows about them.’

A regular walk of mine takes me past a riverside building in Chester. The house is called Nowhere. Local men would drink at this secret tavern and when questioned at home they’d be able to say they’ve been nowhere. Nowhere Man was allegedly composed by John Lennon after a visit to Nowhere during a gig in 1963. I couldn’t help but dwell on that enigmatic building when reading Cate Gardner’s tale. I do her an injustice. Her story is far more than an interesting narrative: it is tumbling umbrellas that have meaning – indeed their ‘open-shut dry-wet of them’, cascading an accumulation of fear along with chandeliers, sedimentary layers of dust and a stomach-churning feeling the walls have ears, mouths, sticky fingers and a yearning to do harm.

Nowhere Hall will affect you. If there are ghosts in such a house, I know it would be like this.

(Blogger’s note: when I lived in Plymouth, my local was called The Nowhere Inn – there are connections everywhere….  – Simon)….

2 comments on “Latest Nowhere Hall review

    • Spent a large part of the last nine years of my time in Plymouth regularly frequenting the establishment – it’s a 250 year-old inn, once a staging post between Plympton and Plymouth, where people could rest before travelling onward. It’s sat slap-bang in the middle of blocks of student Halls of Residence for the University of Plymouth – it has an olde worlde charm about it, although one student marvelled how well the atmosphere of an old pub had been recreated and was told, quite emphatically, that that was because it WAS an old pub… he admitted he’d thought it was a ‘theme’ pub, built at the same time as the halls…

      There’s also a No Place Inn on the other side of the city too…. =)

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