The Respectable Face of Tyranny
by Gary Fry
Spectral Press (2012)
Quiet horror is something of a real treat to read, especially after reading something blatantly shocking or terrifying. It was after a particular graphic novel that I turned to Gary Fry's Respectable Face of Tyranny as a kind of decompression. The thing about quiet horror though, is how it can claw at the back of your mind a tad more insidiously than the knife-wielding maniacs.
In this novella, Josh, a divorcee dad, has moved to a quiet coastal town in the wake of a financial drubbing in his portfolio, not to mention the shellacking his ex-wife's lawyer put on him. The idyllic little burg is meant to serve as a getaway from the hustle, and hopefully offer a way to reconnect with his teenage daughter, Sally. It's not working out. Josh's mind is consumed with what amounts to a quietly devastated life and he's at a loss to put things back together. And it's starting to take a real toll on the relationship he has with Sally, who has started into her rebellious stage. During introspective walks along the seaside, Josh sees strange things along the beach, including--but not limited to--odd scratchings of symbols in the sand and macabre creatures etched into the cliffs--and just as tall.
While I didn't connect with Josh all that much as a character, I was rapt by the imagery Gary provides through this tale. The weird comes out in fits and bursts, and keeps you guessing as to whether it's all in Josh's mind or if there are things in the little town that are starting to come out of the woodwork. The alchemy of the father-daughter relationship rings true, and I actually wound up feeling more fearful for Sally than Josh.
Another engaging little gem from the folks at Spectral Press.