Thursday 26 April 2012

The Respectable Face of Tyranny.

The Respectable Face of Tyranny is the first of the Spectral Visions line of novellas published by the consistently brilliant Spectral Press. It's by Gary Fry whose Abolisher of Roses was the second of the Spectral Press chapbooks. It has to be said that this is another beautifully produced book and it's great to see the care and attention lavished on the chapbooks has been applied to this new range. I have the limited edition hardback but I'm guessing the paperback version is equally impressive.
The front cover is a stunning photograph of Saltwick Bay, the location for the novella, on the North East coast of England near Whitby. The picture is hauntingly evocative and so too are Gary's descriptions of it in the book itself. The plot concerns Josh, reeling from a divorce and personally affected by the Global Recession facing the prospect of living in a caravan near the bay with his teenage daughter Sally.
Actually the plot concerns a lot more than that. The driving theme behind it is the aforementioned recession, here transformed into cosmic horror, presented as an event devastating as the extinction of the dinosaurs, World War Two. You may think the recession was caused by a load of complete bankers. You'd be wrong. In a book dripping with metaphors, mankind is here presented as little more than fleas on a dog's back, its fate determined by forces way beyond its control or comprehension.
Thematically, the novella is similar to Gary's earlier novel Fearful Festivities. I enjoyed this a lot more though as I thought the novel was a wee bit too heavy handed with the metaphors, seemed overly concerned with hammering home its messages about greed, envy and consumerism gone mad. This has a better ending too.
The Respectable Face of Tyranny is quality in every sense of the word. The book itself is a thing of beauty and the story works well as a rattlingly good cosmic horror and a thought-provoking commentary on society. It's another great product from Spectral and I look forward to further editions. What's more, it contains the word Quotidian not once, but twice. Now that's not something you see every day.

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