Friday, March 20, 2015

Lovecraftian horror meets Newfoundland Winter

The Dunfield Horror

By William Meikle

Publisher: Darkfuse

Pub. Date: April 7, 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5stars

In what could be one of the best Lovecraftian novels in a long while, William Meikle grabs us on the first page and drags us breathlessly into his world of ice, isolation and terror. And this is before we even get to the weird stuff.

Let me explain. William Meikle has a wry sense of weirdness that comes from a firm understanding of Lovecraftian strangeness. He excels in descriptions that pulls you in and makes you feel the horror. I expected this. But from the first few pages of The Dunfield Terror, I found myself not feeling tentacles and insanity but the mundane coldness, loneliness, and isolation of a Newfoundland winter. If that scares me then you can be assured the rest will be terrifying.

But it does not take long for the author to get to the really scary stuff. A road workman encounters a strange and dangerous phenomena on a severely snowbound night, wrecking his road plow and causing him to seek the rest of his road crew to warn them of the pending disaster. It is something the Newfoundland residents know through old tales but only a few have actually seen and believe. Quickly, it becomes very real as it threatens to destroy the entire village and rip the fabric of reality with it. The question of where did it come from as well as whether anyone will survive the night is the dilemma that drives the story.

It is those descriptions of what Lovecraft would call "unspeakable horrors" that really get to the reader. They are terrible and beautiful at the same time. When you pair that up with Meikle's literary landscape of a desolate winter night, it is the thing that nightmares come from. Yet this is simply the beginning of the tale. The author combines a present day narrative with journal narrations of past events to build his odd chain of events into an coherent terrifying whole. it is hard to say which works better. The present day narrations that meld Stephen King with Lovecraft or the early narrative segments that have even stronger Lovecraftian elements (Think "The Lurker at the Threshold") with hints of every other weird tales writers of the 30s and 40s. I sense more than a little Blackwood and Derleth lurking at the author's own threshold. Yet The Dunfield Terror successfully melds these separate narrations into a most satisfying novel that scares and mystifies.

When it comes to creating a fantastic scenario that seems both real and fantastic, Meikle is at the top of his game. The Dunfield Terror manages to be old fashion horror and modern existential terror at the the same time which is no small feat. For the Lovecraft fan and the Chuthlu Mythos enthusiasts, this is a must read but it is also essential for those who want to read the best in contemporary horror. At this early date, this is the best horror novel of 2015. and will be hard to beat.

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