Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Exiled - by William Meikle - Horror, plain and simple, with some pretty grim stuff, and the truth is beyond belief.

5 of 5 Stars  

William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Newfoundland, Canada.  I happen to enjoy his frequent Facebook posts with pictures of icebergs floating by.  That has nothing to do with this book, I just happen to like those pics.

As fate would have it, I also happen to like Willie's new book.  Set in his native Scottland, The Exiled, features brothers, John and Alan Grainger.  The former is a copper and the later a cub reporter.

They don't really keep in touch until the brutal slaying of a black swan and the simultaneous disappearance of a six-year-old girl bring them together and throw them into a compelling mystery which takes them to a place neither of them even knew existed.  They may not have been close before, but let an outsider try to harm one, the other will give his all for his brother.

I loved the mood, the settings, and the colorful language of The Exiled.  I found the story to be original and well written.  "'There's always been stories about these parts,' he said, almost a whisper.  'You can't swing a cat around here without hitting a haunted castle or a fairy wood or a bogle's cave.  There are some things that can't be explained--some things you shouldn't look at too closely.  That's all I'm saying.'"

The Exiled is certainly not a pleasant story.  It's horror, plain and simple, with some pretty grim stuff, and the truth is beyond belief.

As I was preparing this review, I happened upon the following quote from the author and I thought I'd share...

"The nightmare? I've been having it off and on since I was a boy. It's of a bird - a huge, black, bird. The stuff that dreams are made of. 

In the nightmare I'm on the edge of a high sea cliff. I feel the wind on my face, taste salt spray, smell cut grass and flowers. I feel like if I could just give myself to the wind I could fly. Then it comes, from blue, snow covered mountains way to the north, a black speck at first, getting bigger fast. Before I know it it is on me, enfolding me in feathers. It lowers its head, almost like a dragon, and puts its beak near my ear. It whispers. 

I had the dream many times, and always woke up at this point. 

Then, in 1991, I heard what it said. 

'Will we talk about the black bird?'

The next morning, for the first time since 1976, I wrote a story. It wasn't a very good story, but something had been woken up, and the day after that I wrote another, a wee ghost story. It didn't have a black bird in it, but it did have some jazz, and a sultry broad, a murder and some dancing. When that one made me 100 pounds in a ghost story competition, I was on my way. 

The bird comes back and whispers to me every couple of years - I've come to think of it as my spirit guide. Although it terrifies me, it also reassures me in a weird kind of way. As long as it's around, I'll still be a writer and not just a drunk with weird ideas he can't express. 

The bird's most recent appeareance was last year, and the next morning I had an idea. THE EXILED, my Darkfuse novel is a way of making sense of that dream - I think I got close to the heart of it. 

Will we talk about the black bird?"

The Exiled will be published in paperback and for the Kindle on July 1, 2014 from Darkfuse, a small press that, in my opinion, has become synonymous with quality.

Highly recommended.

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