It almost seems that there is a new book by Gary Fry being released every other month by DarkFuse which is a very good thing. June will bring the release of “Savage” by Gary Fry and I am lucky enough to have an advance review copy so I wasted little time in reading the novella.
Daryl lives his life by routine. While some, including his girlfriend, may call it boring, Daryl considers it more of a regimen that he can follow to eventual success. He started a promising career as a cognitive scientist when he got his PhD three years earlier but had not been able to achieve the immediate success that so many expected of him. After finishing a presentation that went well until the unscripted Q & A session at the end of the presentation, he decides that he is going to return home quietly and enjoy an evening alone with his thoughts. He uneasily lies to his girlfriend and then, even more uncharacteristically, ignores the fact that he is running low on gas before leaving town on a scenic route home. According to his car’s gauge and the map of his route, he should reach home with ten miles worth of fuel to spare.
Unfortunately for Daryl, life does not always follow a strict regimen as he does and he finds himself stranded on an isolated road. His cell phone cannot get a signal and there are no other cars on the road. Daryl finally realizes that he is going to have to take matters into his own hands and starts walking in search of gas. When he sees a small village, he thinks that he has found the help that he so desperately needs. He will soon learn that he has found something far different.
Once you get familiar with a writer, you come to expect certain things in that author’s works. I was starting to get that way with Gary Fry and then “Savage” comes along and changes everything. I can honestly say that this novella was nothing like I was expecting. I am not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. The creepy factor of “Savage” is similar to some of Fry’s works like “Conjure House” or “Menace” and some of the same themes that Fry covers in “Savage” are similar to some of the same themes (such as what makes us human) as in “Severed” but this is where the similarities end. I am not sure if Fry wrote “Savage” as a type of experimental work but the story almost reads like he did. I say this as even the writing style used by Fry in this novella is different than in his other works that I have read in that it seems more formal than his other works and this fits the story perfectly. If “Savage” is a type of experimental work for Fry, then I would say that it was a successful experiment.
I do not know if I would honestly call “Savage” a horror story although I guess it does have enough elements of horror to be classified as such and to satisfy fans of the genre. The story reminds me a lot of horror that was written a long time ago, such as the 19th and early 20th century, rather than what is being written now. “Savage” is an attempt to explore what it is that makes us human by putting Daryl, who really thinks he has it figured out (or is at least on the verge of figuring it out), in a situation that could change his perspective forever. Daryl lives his life inside of a strict structure in which there is a place and a sequence for everything. Now he is faced with a situation that could change everything for him as what almost seems like a utopia at first changes into his worst nightmare. Daryl must admit, at least to himself, that he may not be as much of an expert as he always considered himself to be.
Lastly, I loved the ending. Fry made a fairly brave choice with the ending of the story and I think that it may not be understood or embraced by some, but the ending made the story for me. I really felt like I was missing something throughout a large part of the story but the end pulled it all together for me. While I will not reveal the words, my favorite part of the story is the last four words.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Savage” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in June and is available for preorder now.