by Mark West
Grayhart Press (2011)
Last year, I had the good fortune to read a Spectral Press chapbook called What Gets Left Behind by Mark West, which wound up being one of the best pieces of horror fiction I read in 2012. The Mill, a novella of Mark's published by Grayhart Press, doesn't quite hit the same memorable notes as that little gem, but it comes damned close.
In the wake of his wife's death, Michael joins a supported group for bereaving partners. It's little consolation, especially as he discovers that the voices he's been hearing near the old mill are not just in his head. Others in the group have heard them too, calling them to join their loved ones in the mill.
The atmosphere was enough to make my skin crawl at times, with the isolation and disembodied voices ringing through crystal clear. The quiet horror associated with the story ran right on par with the likes of Gary Fry, Paul Finch, and other writers adept at turning such utterly real events into something a little bit sinister and a little bit macabre.
The ending comes somewhat abruptly, but that's a small criticism, and it definitely didn't take away from the overall effect the story had. It's one more example of how really good horror can come in small packages, and how Britain seems like it's the go-to spot for literary horror.
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