In January 2011, Spectral Press dropped a great little chapbook on the genre called What They Hear In The Dark, by Gary McMahon. With that publication, Spectral Press peaked my interest, and satisfied my need for an emotion and evocative story.
This time around, Spectral is offering up an intense, emotional, and psychologically-challenging read with Abolisher of Roses, by Gary Fry – cementing themselves as a press to watch, and delivering yet another incredible piece of short fiction.
It’s not always the guilty who have the darkest secrets…
Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He’s a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory, and the father of two fine lads.
He also has a secret mistress.
One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood.
But his are not the only secrets in this marriage, and as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realizes that Patricia has more than a few secrets of her own…
A powerful piece is always a great treat, and this story is just that. Psychologically gripping, Abolisher of Roses makes the reader take a look at infidelity and relationships from a different angle. The relationship presented in this chapbook, between a husband and wife, is a perfect example of the idea that sometimes out past indiscretions can catch up to us and make us pay in the strangest of ways.
What the author does here is phenomenal. The story starts off at a walking pace, coaxing the reader into thinking that they’re looking at a sleepy little tale, only to amp up the pressure like a slow cooker, and eventually throttling the reader into a forceful introspection of their own deeds. Fry decidedly plays with the imagination in a wonderful way, offering very subtle instances of creepiness that will haunt the reader long after the story is finished.
The characters are well played out, the setting and surrounding ambiance are delightfully transgressive, and the overall feeling is a mixture of a semi-sedated, creeping terror and the outright finger-in-the-face kind of accusation that makes this read feel like a roller coaster ride to certain doom.
Fans of UK horror will definitely love this story, and those who are unfamiliar with them will be in for a treat. This is definitely something to grab and throw yourself into.