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.

Hitting Targets, is probably my favourite of the lot.  How Alex manages to construct a story that is both very funny yet extremely chilling at the same time I just don’t know.  Let alone how he manages to turn an Estate Agent, probably one of the most hated breed of people in the UK, into a likeable character.  Stuck in a loveless marriage, and faced with selling an unsellable house, Harvey must pit himself against Mr Vanquisher, and his  Hammer of Gaia, in a battle where there is more than just hitting targets at stake.   This story will have you laughing out loud one minute, then biting your fingernails to the quick the next.  This may be the most light hearted story of the collection, however it displays perfectly Alex’s skill at handling different genres perfectly.  

Glory and Splendour is an apt title for this collection as it  is both glorious and splendid.  I urge you to purchase this book when it is released it was a pure joy to read, relish and savour.  


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