Saturday, 28 November 2015

A Lost Talisman.

Read this great double bill of books by Jonathan Aycliffe at the weekend. A Saturday night horror double bill if you will. Two books written in a style and using subject manner that strays very close to similar stories you may have read before but remain strong original tales in their own right. There is something almost seductive about the familiarity that feels like a familiar tune played on surprising and haunting instruments. Of the two I found The Talisman particularly affecting. (Possibly because I spent some of the best years of my life working in a store called The Talisman.) The Lost reminded me of some of the great horror novels of my youth that involved Satanic rumblings and Biblical prophecies whose time had come. Books such as The Omen, The Sentinel or The Apocalypse. big world ending stories that reek of sulphur. The Talisman charts the moral decay of a young Romanian immigrant and his dreadful heritage. There is some icy story telling here as a young man of the west strays into haunted regions. Damning himself and those he loves. It is also told in the same format as Bram Stoker's Dracula as a series of journal entries and letters. Yet it does not feel in the least tired.
           The book jacket designs are beautifully old school and the authors influences are literally worn on the sleeve of the volumes. They are old influences to be sure but the storytelling and dialogue are thoroughly modern.
             There are many dark areas of this world which remain unexplored and perhaps we are all the better for this. The many antiquarian explorers in the pages of MR James stories who dig too deep who go too far. Jonathan Aycliffe seems determined to follow in their footsteps.
              I for one will be cautiously watching where he goes.
              Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind me.