Wednesday, 6 September 2017

'The English House'

The final story in Darkly Haunting came as a surprise to me. After Peter Holmans's take on Britain's murky past in 'No Surrender' I had expected D.P. Watt's story to be very different. And it is, to be fair, but it remains resolutely political.

'The English House' is set in the mid-21st century, decades after Brexit has caused the unravelling of the EU. The result is a bloody, Balkanised Europe, with a never-ending series of brush-fire wars killing off what remains of the continent's youth. An elderly English couple living in rural France become obsessed with 'La Maison Anglaise', a seemingly abandoned house near their own. Their daughter, when young, imagined the English House to be full of fascinating and fantastical residents. As the brutal reality of a collapsing culture becomes unendurable the discovery of the daughter's diary triggers a series of unusual events.

It is hard to classify this story, as it borrows both from science fiction and some of the classics of weird fiction. There's a distinct Blackwoodian feel to the treatment of the 'haunted' house. Above all, though, 'The English House' is about escapism, the way in which people whose lives have failed seek solace in the impossible. Or, put simply, I don't know what to make of it. Suffice to say that it's a remarkable tale, well up the author's usual standard.

And that ends this running review of Darkly Haunting. I hope you've found it informative, or at least vaguely helpful.

No comments: