This new review, courtesy of Walt Hicks and posted on David T Wilbanks’ Page Horrific review blog, is an absolute belter, and confirms both Gary’s standing as a writer destined for great things and also that I am definitely on the right track with Spectral Press:
What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon is the inaugural release from Spectral Press, and they could not have gotten off to a better start.
The novella is a carefully crafted, slow burn of dread and suspense, told from the POV of Rob, half of a heart-broken couple mourning the untimely loss of their son. McMahon adeptly paints his characters quickly and with beautiful economy, and the reader feels almost like a voyeur observing their tormented bereavement so intimately. The wife and mother Becky is revealed in quietly morose layers that are particularly poignant. Overwhelming grief and pain, along with a number of atmospherically concise metaphorical devices are wonderfully melded, his spot-on dialogue contributes to the dark tone. McMahon’s deft eloquence is ideal for this type of ‘quiet’ horror tale, and his pitch perfect pacing to a heart-rending denouement is breath-taking.
Spectral Press’ mission statement of nodding to “classic ghost/horror stories written by some of the great”(s) is well-realized here, and I was reminded somewhat of the late, great Charles L. Grant with this offering.
The cover art for the chapbook is also appropriately understated, and the interior layout is easy on the eyes and comfortable to read. There were a couple of misused semicolons and a double tab in one paragraph, in the version I read, but otherwise the novella was extremely well-edited.
Much of the material I have read lately is of the “in your face” variety of horror, descriptive, violent and gruesome–and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, particularly if well done. However, if you have a passion for literate, darkly atmospheric tales told without the necessity for gore and violence, then Spectral Press’ What They Hear in the Darkis precisely your cup of hemlock.
What a brilliant harbinger perhaps for Spectral in 2011!!