By Mark Morris
Spectral Press, out June
A holiday in the English countryside leads to a tragedy that resounds over the years…
Mark Morris’ novella is likely to haunt you for some time after reading it. Attending a family funeral prompts the narrator to think back to a key moment in his childhood when he and his twin sister, along with their parents, went to stay in what should have been a peaceful country house – the Albion Fay of the title – and investigated the caves nearby. Something happened to his sister Angie when she was in there, and its effects resonate across the family – affecting the narrator perhaps rather more than he cares to admit to himself.
Morris adopts a non-linear approach which allows the reader to fill in some of the blanks for themselves, although be careful – assumptions can be very dangerous in this sort of tale, particularly as it becomes increasingly clear that it may not just have been Angie who was affected. In a good way, this brought back memories of some of Morris’ early horror tales, and the compactness of the novella form means that there’s not a wasted word – the characterisation is sharp, and there’s an encircling sense of doom the further you reach in the tale… rather like going too far into the caves it describes, in fact…
Verdict: Like the house after which it’s named, Albion Fay draws you into its heart of darkness… 9/10