Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spectral Press

So this is a review, not for a particular book, but for an entire small press. Not all publishing companies are made equal, and you do have to sometimes be careful with the smaller ones. Spectral Press, however, is in a class all its own. They don't produce a lot of things, but you get quality over quantity with them. They produce limited edition chapbooks that generally sell out prior to their release date, and there is good reason for this. These chapbooks have high production values, so the physical product is very nice, but the stories contained in them are ones that you will want to go back to again and again. I have had the pleasure of reading three of them. Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner, King Death by Paul Finch, and Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth.

I have heard Cate Gardner being described as a genre of one, and I think that is an apt description. I love her work, and Nowhere Hall was everything I expected it to be. Which is to say I was surprised, challenged, and moved by her unique story. It is about a suicidal man that becomes trapped in a rather strange hotel; he is not sure if he has gone mad or is already dead.

King Death by Paul Finch is another masterful tale in the Spectral line. This one is quite different from Gardner's story. It is set during the time when the black death was sweeping through Europe. In it there are two characters; one is a knight who is immune to the disease that has stricken so many around him, and the other is a young orphaned boy. The knight, who is a rather unsavory character, seeks to take advantage of the boy's situation, but he gets quite a surprise in the end.

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth is the most recent release from Spectral, and it is a very strong story. The main character, a man named Cornish, is woken up every night by loud banging on pots and pans that is accompanied by people performing an  increasingly intricate dance; they are trying to tell him something. What I really loved about this story was that it had a song like rhythm to it. It was as if the scenes where Cornish woke up each night were a refrain in a song that Unsworth kept coming back to, and each time he did the time between the refrain and the rest of the song grew shorter. This rhythm had me reading faster and my heart rate increasing until I reached the climax at the very end. This was a very well written story!

Having read these I will continue to subscribe to Spectral Press for the foreseeable future; I don't want to miss out! They are a great product and the editing in each of them was suburb. Spectral Press is also producing a line of novellas. The first one is called The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry. The limited edition hardcover of this has already sold out, however it will be available in paperback.  Here is a link to Spectral's website where there is ordering information as well as various updates about the Spectral line. I highly recommend getting a chapbook subscription and the upcoming novella; anyone who enjoys fine fiction is certain to want these as a part of their library.

I give Spectral Press and it's three chapbooks five cocktails.

No comments:

Post a Comment