Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shiftling - by Steven Savile - Coming of age novella with a strange twist

4.5 of 5 Stars

Kudos to the unsung hero(es) responsible for the cover design and cover art for Shiftling.  Beautiful in it's own right and made more so with the way it ties in with this wonderful novella from Steven Savile and DarkFuse press.

Shiftling, which takes place in both 1985 and  the present, starts off looking like a run of the mill coming of age story set right in the middle of the 80's, but somewhere along the way, the story becomes about monsters, of both the monstrous kind and the human kind.

When the story is set in '85, Steven Savile uses the music on the radio to help establish the times.  With Savile being British and me being American, there were a number of bands/songs that were universally big and others that really never caught on in the good ol' USA. I found this to be a bit disconcerting, but I got the idea AND I never realized Bruce Willis was so big, as a singer, in the UK.

Another nice touch was the writer's use of a funfair or carnival as a backdrop for some of the story. Carnivals tend to creep me out.  Ever since Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, carnivals have had a way of drawing me in and then scaring the bejesus out of me.

Spider, Scotty, Gazza, Ferret, and our story-teller, Drew, are the four principals who spend a summer afternoon washing cars and doing odd jobs to get enough cash to go to the funfair that's come to the commons in Ashthorpe.  The last place they come to is Old Man Harrison's broken down house which sits just across from the commons.  No one expected him to have a job for them, you see "Old Man Harrison is the archetypal creepy old hermit kids transform into vampires and cannibal child-eaters in their imaginations."

Scotty, however gets up the nerve to ask for work and, when he comes out of the house, convinces the gang to clean up the old man's property, but with no payment.  And this is when things begin to get really weird.

Shiftling wasn't at all what I expected.  Although it had me intrigued and creeped out out in no time, it took me in directions I didn't expect and didn't necessarily want to go.

Highly recommended and available now from DarkFuse press through

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