New review 19:08:2013

Soul Masque by Terry Grimwood. © 2013 Terry Grimwood. Cover concept ©  2013 Neil Williams/Spectral Press. All rights reserved.

Soul Masque by Terry Grimwood. © 2013 Terry Grimwood. Cover concept © 2013 Neil Williams/Spectral Press. All rights reserved.

It’s been fairly quiet around these parts lately, so let’s change that by bringing you the latest review of Terry Grimwood’s chapbook story, Soul Masque. This one is from subscriber Paul Feeney, and was posted to his Facebook timeline:

“The world is on the brink, demons are rife and those that purport to do God’s (yes, God, with the capital…) work seem as corrupt as those they fight. Within this dark, grimy war revolves the separate yet tangled lives of Sian, a facilitator and handler of sorts and dispenser of mingled pain and pleasure; Jon, the wielder of the Glory and slave to chemical dependence; Meg, Jon’s lover and companion; Rennie, who loves Meg but carries his own dark secrets; and The Singer, an angel whose appearance and motivations somehow seem less than holy…

Twenty three pages of short story and there’s enough here for an entire novel. I don’t just mean the idea, I mean the thing itself reads like a novel. It’s mind boggling to think how much Terry Grimwood has managed to squeeze into this small chapbook. It’s a testament to the writing which is spare and fractured, yet incredibly detailed. In fact, the whole structure is disjointed, adding to the fragile, brittle world the characters inhabit – and also themselves. In a few scant words, Grimwood gives full flesh to his people, covers the bones of his story in rich detail with light strokes of his writing. It’s an incredible feat, only slightly marred for me by the use of present tense in places. At least at first. It made it difficult for me to break into the story at first, which is already dense and layered. I feel, and this is purely a personal thing, that it would have been better to start with past tense and introduce the present later, because, as the story races towards its end, it really doesn’t distract at that point.

Still, a minor quibble. The story is epic, beautiful, tragic and very dark, with little hope of redemption for any of its protagonists. There’s enough here to sustain a whole series of novels and I’d love to see more. The scene with Sian and The Singer in her room…well, it sent shivers up and down my spine.

Gorgeous, brutal stuff. Look forward to more.”

Many thanks, Paul – more soon!

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