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Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This novella was received free from Crystal Lake Publishing in return for an honest review.
Yet again, Crystal Lake Publishing has not failed to deliver. This is my first reading of a Jasper Bark book, and I must admit that being of a squeamish nature I had avoided his work having heard rumours of a certain tendency towards gore. I prefer my horror dark, atmospheric, sinister—possibly a touch more subtle than what I expected from this author. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that Quiet Places ticked all the right boxes for me. A story very much in the folk horror tradition, it tells of a young woman, Sally, lured to a remote part of Scotland by her husband to share his sudden inheritance. There, she finds herself not only isolated from the rest of the country but also from her husband as his behaviour and secrecy mark a growing distance between them. Eventually she discovers he, and subsequently she, have been summoned back to Scotland to mitigate the effects of an age-old curse hanging over his family and the people of the town of Dunballan, a curse which turns people into mindless and helpless beings. Sally’s researches into the curse encourage her to try and put an end to it, to free her husband from his suffering; unfortunately, her well-meaning attempts have disastrous consequences. From the disembodied voice of Hettie of the Hedgerows, the appearance of the supernatural Beast of Dunballan, and the almost Lovecraftian city and otherworldly plane of existence, this book has it all. I read it in a day, always a good sign.
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