Gary McMahon has been around for some time. He is a writer that I have often heard mention of as being an excellent wordsmith, however this is actually my first time reading any of his work and I am pleased to report that what I have heard holds true. McMahon is what I would call a writers writer; one that has a smooth styling, always choosing the right words at exactly the right time to evoke a moment or an emotion that helps to elevate the narrative from a good story into a great one. This book was a pleasure to read.
After the introduction by Nathan Ballingrud we meet Alice; a grieving widow still coming to terms with the loss of her abusive husband, after he committed suicide. There is a real melancholy vibe with this novella, a haunting dreamlike feel that works wonders when read late at night inside the comfort of ones own cosy surroundings.
The story is pretty close to perfect. McMahon will give you chills and create feelings that pull at the heart strings regularly. The story follows a small group of people dealing with loss and grief. The group are taken away to the country, to the Grief House-a place that has its own history, one that is not particularly pleasent. Strange occurrences begin to take place and Alice in particular begins to feel a bond with the energy that the house seems to radiate. The house itself seems to feed off of the despair of its occupants, slowly transforming Alice into something else.
Being a novella, things begin to transpire quickly, certain traits of the group begin to arise and along with strange occurrences, bad things begin to happen, separating the group, driving a wedge between each of them.
Each of the characters in this tale has a harrowing history, one of deep personal suffering and loss. The folk like legend that surrounds the house is truly creepy and the suffocating, bleak atmosphere that McMahon creates is outstanding. A part of me feels that this story could’ve been explored further, stretching out into a novel, though this was probably due to me enjoying it and not wanting it to end.
‘ The Grieving Stones’ is a classic example of great horror storytelling; written with confidence and class, with enough chills to unsettle even the most seasoned dark fiction reader. A wonderful, creepy, bleak novella from Horrific Tales Publishing.
Pick up a copy of this excellent novella from here.