Nyc­to­pho­bia

Edge Of Dark­ness

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

320 pages | £ 7.99 ( pa­per­back) Au­thor: Christo­pher Fowler Pub­lisher: So­laris

Nyc­to­pho­bia is the

patho­log­i­cal fear of the dark. It’s one of a num­ber of prob­lems new­ly­wed Cal­lie is strug­gling with. A vin­dic­tive mother, a his­tory of abuse and the not- in­con­sid­er­able dif­fi­cul­ties of em­i­grat­ing to Spain are also giv­ing her grief.

Still, her hus­band Mat­teo is de­voted to her and the new house is an enor­mous sun- trap. Ex­actly what Cal­lie needs to get over her pho­bias. Ex­cept there are locked, un­lit rooms where no one goes… and Cal­lie can hear things mov­ing be­hind the doors.

Christo­pher Fowler is known for danc­ing be­tween gen­res, so it’s sightly sur­pris­ing that Nyc­to­pho­bia is a very tra­di­tional haunted house story. The spirit of The Shin­ing is in­voked and the nar­ra­tor’s san­ity is con­stantly in ques­tion, as in The In­no­cents. Also like those films – and in spite of the ti­tle – many of its scares take place in the harsh light of day. In fact, Hype­r­ion House is swathed in so much sun­light it oc­ca­sion­ally reads like the char­ac­ters are liv­ing in a gi­ant green­house.

So Nyc­to­pho­bia’s not hugely orig­i­nal, but then it’s in­creas­ingly hard to be in a genre as sea­soned as this. Where it wins out is in its deeply un­easy at­mos­phere and Fowler’s as­sured, witty prose. This is a dark, sad tale, but Cal­lie makes for a like­ably self- ef­fac­ing pro­tag­o­nist with a pleas­ingly prag­matic ap­proach to the su­per­nat­u­ral. Will Sal­mon

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