Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, April 1, 2018 Under: Book Reviews
My second 5-star review in a week!
I love short stories, and I was delighted to be sent “The Night Alphabet”, which is a collection of wonderfully compact coffee-break tales, each based (albeit tenuously) on a theme beginning with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. They are truly enthralling, grabbing you straight away with the heartbreaking story of an angel living amongst us, which has a very current socio-moral message.
David Donachie is an incredibly creative writer, weaving his imaginative - and sometimes plain eerie (“The Face Under My Bed”) - anecdotes from that semi-dream state right at the edge of his sleep, when our dreams are at their most vivid - a pool of endless resource for a writer. I love this concept. I would liken some of the fables to the fun nonsense children write, while others are nightmarish in tone, resembling what Poe might compose, were he living in contemporary times. Some have a classic British chiller feel about them, bringing to mind Peter Cushing in the Hammer movies, particularly “The Figurine”. With such subjects as a castle in the clouds, an alien who steals sandwiches or a man slowly turning into a tree, they are not genre-specific – David writes whatever he likes. That said, though, as the book continues a common undertone does begin to emerge: that of a bleak alternate future, and an implied doomed-humanity prophecy; this is not to disparage in any way, however. As you draw toward the latter stories, it starts to occur to you that a handful (or maybe all) of the tales appear to be linked in some complex way, and it is fun (and a little mind-blowing) trying to decipher the connection – some underlying backstory. However, I could be completely wrong about this – perhaps there is none, or perhaps there is but David is not aware of it, having created it subconsciously in that waking-dream state. One thing which is definitely common, though, is that unifying melancholy, which grows, in these bizarre and often cryptic tales.
I was utterly gripped from start to finish, and enjoyed every moment. Every time I tried to put this book down, I told myself: “Just one more…” Needless to say, I had completed it in just a couple of short sittings. David is an author with an engaging, atmospheric voice, and his literature has a classic feel to it. “The Night Alphabet” is a work of art, and I applaud him – it is like fine dining, with twenty-six niblet-sized courses, each thoroughly satisfying. I would love to see more from this author.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: david-donachie short-stories alphabet fiction