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)….