Tuesday 17 November 2020

Number 86 - The Little Gift - Stephen Volk


Stephen Volk is another writer primarily known for television.  He's probably best known for the BBC fake reality show Ghostwatch that caused a bit of a stir when it first came out. He also wrote the film Gothic, the tv series Midwinter of the Spririt and Afterlife (starring Andrew Lincoln of Walking Dead fame)

So he has a very classy screenwriting career.   despite having a few of his books I'd never quite got round to reading them.  I needed a cheat read while I wait for the next few volumes of the Walking Dead  so this seemed like as good a time as any. 

I'm glad to say his prose writing is as classy as his screen work. This is one of the most thought provoking things I've read this year. I'm not even sure what genre it belongs in - and that's a good thing.

The story begins with our narrator's wife finding the little gift the cat has brought in for the family. The narrator is asked to put the bird out of it's misery and dispose of it. The very beginning is told in present tense. As he's walking to the bins to dispose of the latest gift, his mind drifts back to a day that started when the cat brought them a dead vole, and the events that followed.

The story now switches to past tense and we hear the tale of his past infidelity and what came after. To say more would be very spoilerific. 

The relationships in this book are beautifully drawn - easily the equal to any whirlwhind romance I've read in a Rupert Thomson or a Jonathan Carroll novel - and coming from me that is high praise indeed. Despite not liking the narrator for his actions, you know where he's coming from and can understand him. I was genuinely moved and shocked by some of the events that transpired.  

The metaphors inherent to the story never overpower the storytelling and the ending is well nigh perfect. I finished this late last night and it's been on my mind all day. This is a dark meditation on love and the turns life can take.

Even by PS Publishing's normal high standards, this is a well put together book.  The cover art and internal illustrations are excellent. They perfectly match the darkness at the centre of the story.

I have a few more of Mr Volk's works on my shelves.  They have all been moved much higher up the TBR pile.

There are still copies of this available through the PS website.  https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/ 

Buy it there while you can.  Jeff Bezos doesn't need any more of your money.

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