Over the last decade or so, I have discovered many of my favorite authors while reading books by DarkFuse or its predecessor, Delirium Books. Gary Fry is becoming one of those authors. Over the last couple months, I have been very impressed by Fry’s books “Conjure House” and “Lurker.” When I started Fry’s upcoming novella “Menace,” which is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in January, I was hoping to once again be scared by Mr. Fry.
Jane Marlow is a model who now faces a problem as she finds out that she is pregnant after a night of passion and alcohol. Jane is unsure about her ability to provide for her child as she has been a model since she was a teenager and is determined to make as much money as she can before the pregnancy begins to show. She jumps at the opportunity to model for the cover of an upcoming book even though it means a long drive from her London home to Northern England to have the pictures taken at the author’s childhood home. The project goes smoothly although Jane is haunted by a ghostly image of six children that she glimpsed while at the home.
Determined to clear her mind of the children she saw, Jane contacts the author and begins to learn a little more about the house and the author’s family. This only increases her unease, however, and her worry is amped up even more as she has a growing suspicion that there may be something wrong with her unborn child and a freak injury suffered by the father. With all of this weighing on her mind, Jane begins to suspect that the two things may be connected.
“Menace” is, quite simply, a great novella. As with the other books that I have read from Fry, the horror in “Menace” is more subtle than is found in most modern horror. Rather than punching you in the gut, Fry’s brand of horror is more like the demon that stands just behind you and whispers in your ear. You know it is there even though you cannot see it until it is ready to strike. And when it strikes, it goes straight for the kill. Fry knows just how to draw the reader into his world before slamming the door to trap the reader inside. I have liked the previous books I have read by Fry but “Menace” is the best so far.
In this age of instant gratification and the technological ability to throw movie quality special effects into everything from movies to TV commercials, people today are used to having everything right in front of them and in their face. What most people do not realize is that the monster that cannot be seen in the shadows is often worse than the gory beast that looms in front of you. The fear of the unknown is a very powerful force and Gary Fry is well aware of this. He works in subtlety rather than detail and allows the reader’s imagination to take over. He knows that what lurks in the reader’s mind is more terrifying than what he can put on the page. What makes Fry so good is that he knows exactly how to provide a framework to set the reader’s imagination free and allows all his books to scare the hell out of me.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced reading copy. “Menace” by Gary Fry will be available from DarkFuse in January.