Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Little Girl In My Room & Other Stories by Claire Farrell, Kindle Direct Publishing

(A shorter review this week due to pressing seasonal commitments).

Plucked at random, this first-time author release from last year showcases’ a dozen little psycho-chillers, mostly from the narrator’s point of view.
  Here is the modish taste for story as extended anecdote – now labelled flash fiction – that could just as well be a series of climactic scenes from first draft novels.  To serve this sparse economy, sentences are either extremely short or just what might otherwise, in longer works, be post-semi-colon pay-offs.
  At first, I felt rising exasperation that I was reading little more than what could pass as the school essay of a precocious fourteen year old.  Then, as each further tale flew by, a strange effect, and one quite claustrophobic, took over.  As though, as a reader, I had to fight, not to get away, but just get out into open air.  The stark simplicity of the prose style had managed to stifle and stymie - an effect reminiscent of early Ballard.
  How intentional this is, is as much a mystery as the un-avatared personality behind the tales.  Farrell’s Facebook page reveals a 28-year-old Dublin-based Irishwoman; an ‘aspiring writer’ who is admirably committing to releasing at least two titles per year.  Equally admirable is her seeming lack of religious guilt that, allied to the supernatural, has hidebound too many previous generations.
  It is, perhaps, pointless to pick out certain tales.  Each covers well-trodden horror ground; familial paedophilia, the summoning of a demon, the out-of-body experience and the unaware ghost.  Na├»ve souls all, initiating scores of which they think they have control that, inevitably, turn around to bite them.  The revenge fantasy also gets an outing.  In ‘Justice,’ a woman, who may or may not have been spurned, wreaks a psychotic revenge on the object of her obsession, and getting what she wants, deprives us of the by now anticipated twist.
  Farrell at least knows the importance of ambiguity in the genre; where the reader only knows whether he can trust the narrator at the story’s end.  In ‘Peace’, this is too easily foregrounded; in ‘Forever Young,’ anticlimactic. Still, the prose is always precise and clear.  Intimating more than the number of words used remains a hallmark of the superior ‘aspiring writer.’

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