Thursday, 19 July 2018

Revenants & Maledictions - Ten Tales of the Uncanny

Fresh from completing my last running review, I hit the metaphorical road wearing my figurative Nikes for another literary marathon. This time I'm reading - one hard word at a time - the new Peter Bell collection from Sarob Press. At the time of writing Robert Morgan may still have some copies left, so...

Still here? Well, let us begin with the cover, which is a rather nice painting by Paul Lowe. This captures the essence of Bell's work, which is intimately linked to a spirit of place. He is an author who puts setting first. While his characters are by no means ciphers, places are always richly evoked. This is traditional weird fiction of a very British kind, albeit influenced by many variations on the ghost story genre.

The first story, 'Apotheosis', is one of six previously unpublished tales. However, I had the pleasure of hearing Peter Bell read this at a little gathering of like-minded types, so it was interesting to encounter it on the page. It tells the story of an academic who ventures to a small Scottish island, where he finds himself in the middle of a funeral for a much-loved local priest. Years later a painting by a visionary artist reveals a truth that the visitor was unaware of.

It's a good start, a solidly traditional tale with a nice twist. I look forward to the other nine stories. Those who know Peter Bell's work will, perhaps, already be enjoying this collection as one explores an esoteric museum in an obscure provincial town. Gentler souls who have yet to discover his particular take on the uncanny will, I think, find a kindred spirit.

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