Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2009 (Published by Bloody Books - an imprint of Beautiful Books Limited)
Length - 408 pages
Written by Bill Hussey
Rating: 4 Skulls
It was a tragic accident. That is what his family tells Joe Nightingale, but the boy is tormented by visions of his mother's death.
Now, seven months after the fatal car crash, the Nightingale's receive some unexpected news. They have inherited a house from a distant relative - the reclusive Muriel Sutton. Desperate to reforge old bonds, the family decides to spend the summer at Daecher's Mill. Here they hope to escape the shadows of the past.
But dark mysteries await them. Who are the guests that have been brought here over the years? Why did the late Muriel Sutton murder her strange little sister, Alice? And what is the connection between Joe Nightingale and this lonely Fenland millhouse?
Something is moving in the attic. It looks and sounds like a little girl, but its eyes are old and its voice runs like water.
It is a weaver of shadows.
A creature of Absence. . .
Last year [before I had this blog] I read Hussey's debut novel, Through A Glass, Darkly and was thoroughly impressed! If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to check Hussey out!
In The Absence, Hussey grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let go!
Not only has Hussey written another extremely creepy novel, he has crafted a tale about family in general.
In this story, Hussey has created a mother who is literally "absent" [you will learn exactly what that means] while raising her family and a cheating/alcoholic husband/father. The oldest son is struggling with the fault of causing the car accident that claimed his mother's life, and the youngest son is dealing with a friend's suicide - however these things soon become the very least of their worries. . .
When I read Through A Glass, Darkly, I remember comparing bits and pieces of it to Lumley & King - In The Absence, there is more of a Lovecraftian feel to the story.
Hussey's gift is, without a doubt, imagery - when you are reading his works, you feel as if you are right there, where the story is taking place. . . I obtained permission from the publisher to write this small excerpt from the book, so that you can see what I mean:
The kitchen door opened.
The she heard it: a soft mewling. She gripped the rabbit's foot.
'Mrs Sutton? Please, who's there?'
The resonance of the sound increased and, at the end of each intonation, a cry gargled. It had a synaesthetic effect on Elsie. It rattled in her ear and she saw the world around her quilted in a red gauze. Disinfectant, and the smell of sterile medical equipment, burned her nostrils. Her legs parted and she seemed to feel fingers delving deep inside. She looked down, half expecting to see a face, covered with a surgical mask, smiling up at her:
Nearly done Miss Cuttle. Nearly out.
But that is not what she saw.
It crawled across the kitchen tiles: a baby . . . of sorts.
Reaching the centre of the room, it stopped, turned its head one hundred and eighty degrees and blinked up at its mother.
Elsie did not scream.
Spewed into the world half-made, the foetus displayed all the motor functions it might have possessed had it been born the year before. There was even an air of curiosity, as it slapped the ground with a plump palm. With this movement, flecks of amniotic tissue fell from its shoulders and from the caul clinging to its head. Much of the sac membrane, however, remained fixed to the child, like strands of swaddling. Between its legs trailed a stunted umbilical cord. Snot bubbled from the slits that served as the infant's nose and threaded to the floor. Again, the mouth opened and mewling erupted over toothless gums. It called to her, this thing of her making, this creature that she had failed to destroy. It wanted its mother. It wanted to suckle.
'Shhh, shhh,' Elsie implored.
But her child would not be hushed.
'Are you hungry?'
'Ma . . . ma'
A remnant of sanity made itself felt. Elsie shot out of the chair and pressed her back against the sink. She watched as the child screamed and toppled onto its back. With a horrible snap its arms and legs inverted and it skittered, spider-like, toward its mother. Only now did Elsie see that the thing was sexless, like a doll.
'I'm sorry,' she shrieked. 'Please, I'm sorry.'
Little hands grasped her legs. With surprising force they dragged her to the ground. There was no fight in Elsie Cuttle, for this was God's judgment upon her. . .
I will leave the rest to your imagination - pretty freaky though, huh? [and this is only page 80!]
There are even more horrific things to be found within this novel - it is guaranteed to give you goosebumps!
So far, the best book of 2009!