Glory and Splendour : Tales of The Weird by Alex Miles
There are days when this book reviewing gig feels like a huge millstone, faced with a pile of mediocre self published drivel, I often wondered why I do this. Then there are days when the thoughts of and memories of every terrible book, I have had to endure, gets bleached out of my mind by the sheer brilliance of a book. This folks is one of those wonderfully good days. If you have heard of Alex Miles, you’ll know what I am talking about. Although not many of you will have at the time of writing this review. This is not only his début publication, it is also the début publication from Karōshi Books, the new imprint from Johnny Mains, Peter Mark May and Cathy Hurren. If the Glory and Splendour is indicative of the quality books we can expect from Karōshi Books, then the future is looking very bright for all concerned.
Glory and Splendour is a collection of six stories that showcases an author who has an amazing talent for writing wonderfully evocative, dramatic, Gothic and at times humorous stories. These stories are not bound to any specific genre, apocalyptic Gothic horror, science fiction, and Dystopian futures are all paid a visit in glorious fashion by an amazingly talented writer. A writer whose talent far outweighs my ability to heap prise on. Sometimes when you read an authors début publication you cut them a little bit of slack. They are still honing their craft, still finding their voice. There was no slack cut with this book, in fact I’m beginning to wonder if The Mystic Little Pedlar, who appears in at least two, if not three of the stories here hasn’t given Alex Miles a special pen. I hope not because his wares always come with a terrible and tragic price.
I loved everyone of these stories, when I read this book, I was having a pretty shitty time of it. And for while, this book transported me to a world full of wonder, light years away from drudge of real life. Three stories in particular struck a chord with me, these were:
Glory and Splendour, a truly amazing first person story set in a dying, rotting world. Our narrator has been shut away from the outside world, in a house that itself is slowly scumming to the rot of the world at large, both from the outside and from within. When a certain mysterious pedlar appears with a gift that can hide all the ugliness of the world, you just know this is not going to end well. This is a wonderful example of modern Gothic story telling, it is a deeply personal story, while at the same time manges to paint of brilliantly detailed picture of the decaying world at large.
Deep Stitches, is one of those splendidly subtle stories that initially had me scratching my head, wondering what just happened? But the story slowly sunk into my subconscious and the realisation as to what did just happen slowly percolated its way to the surface I was left with an overriding sense of awe, here I was standing in the presence of a truly gifted author.