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"A heady mix of folk horror and the psychological, of religious yearning and the uncannily atavistic, this compelling novella carries us through the darkest occult secrets to a cosmic revelation that may haunt your dreams." - Ramsey Campbell
"Gothic Horror with a twist of Interdimensional Terror, Quiet Places will do for a walk in the woods that sharks did for a sum at the beach." - Nikki Nelson-Hicks, author of Jake Istenhegyi, The Accidental Detective
"Jasper Bark is a trickster of a writer, a performer on the page. A clown that's not slipping on a banana skin, but on a pool of freshly-spilled blood." - Stephen Volk
"An evocative mystery that sheds its layers with escalating dread. Barks conjures a visionary blend of folklore and cosmic revelation that shines Gnostic themes through a twisted Lovecraftian prism." - Douglas Wynne, author of The SPECTRA Files Trilogy
File Size: 4575 KB
Print Length: 123 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing (September 29, 2017)
A wonderous book from start to finish. Spookishly delicious. A story full of mystery, sorrow, and some cults from the past. This story will get your heart racing and break it too. All fans of Jasper Bark need to read it. It's pure genius.
Quiet Places is a stunning work of cosmic horror, a sub-genre I don't often check out. But as I have argued many a time, if the writer is right, the story will be good. If you connect with the words, the story sings, regardless of the shape.
Bark masterfully spins a tale of a small town that has seemingly come under the power of some kind of curse, leaving behind but one person, the protagonist of the story. Unveiling her story as well as what happened to the people of the town make for some great atmosphere of dread and mystery throughout.
The structure of the story is totally bonkers and in my opinion, in the hands of many authors would fail completely. Bark employs flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, to the point that at times it feels like he is telling the story backwards. It's the kind of narrative device that works better for film, such as titles like Memento, but without the ability to provide visual cues, it's much harder to pull it off effectively in a book. Despite the challenges, Bark has managed to weave together a story that unfolds in a logical fashion and is paced just right to keep my interest.
I loved the suspense of the story as well as the history and mythology of the town. Bark manages to provide a lot of information without making it feel heavy handed, on the back of some beautiful and frightening imagery. I liked the themes I saw of obligation and sacrifice, in turning the whole of yourself over in exchange for someone or something you care about more than yourself.
This is a short book but I have the sense that I could have read it several more times before it started to feel repetitive. Every time I read Jasper Bark he shows me something a little different, something I think is indicative of a master storyteller.
A new tale from Jasper Bark is always something I look forward to reading. The man has a style which is easy to read and flows like a delightful river, which seems almost at odds with the kinds of places Jasper takes the reader to with his stories…
For example, the title-story of Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts is one of those stories that makes you cringe and wince and clear the sick from your throat, but it also hooks nacreous claws into your mind and stays with you. And all of Jasper’s tales work on myriad levels, too – memories of scenes will pop into your mind months after reading a tale, and yet those memories will understand the scene better, or perhaps even differently. It’s one of the ways a great storyteller stands apart.
And Jasper has done it again with Quiet Places.
The cover (by the supremely talented Ben Baldwin), coupled with the title, says so many things, and is a perfect snapshot-image of the tale – that scene also takes place in the novella, and when you read it I’m pretty sure that you might flip back to the cover; if you can stop reading long enough to do so, I have to add.
Because by the time you get that specific scene, you’ll already be deep into the tale – you’ll have met sad, determined, slightly off-kilter Sally, her husband David, some of the inhabitants of the small town they live in, and Hettie and the Beast. Jasper’s spell will have been tightly woven, and you’ll be aching to know how Sally got into the situation she’s in at the beginning of the novel.
What Jasper has done with this tale is create something that has many aspects but which also works supremely well as a whole – you’ve got Sally’s psychological self, coupled with her determination; you’ve got David’s seeming lack of concern and spine; you’ve got a small town, with the accompanying mentality, and it’s people; you’ve got a major secret which everyone is keeping; you’ve got strange happenings in the forest and hedgerows; you’ve got cosmic horror. It all works. It all meshes. Masterfully.
But the heart of the tale -which boils down to what we experience, decide, act upon and then rue- is where this tale really shines. Monsters aren’t actually monsters because of what they do or what they look like – they’re monsters because they reveal themselves to be almost akin to those aspects of ourselves we choose to disregard or ignore or hide. And Jasper understands that sometimes the monster isn’t the monster, and that the victim can also be the knowing instigator.
Quiet Places is tight, lyrical, spans centuries is novel ways, and shows us parts of ourselves which might, given the perfect nudge at the right time, change from that which gives us strength to that which makes us want to run in fear and terror. And it’s also a tale which shows it’s characters (and the reader) that what you think you know is almost always wrong, or at least misunderstood.
It’s an excellent tale, on many levels, not the least of which is that it shows how versatile and empathic a writer Jasper is. Highly recommended!
We first come across Sally caring for the folk of Dunballan, who are in a comatosed state. Following the past events, you get to find out what happened in the little town. David is the last of the McCavendish line, suffers from an ancient curse. Stalked by a beast and suffering dark depressive incidents. With only a creepy voice in the hedgerow to help Sally, can she break the curse and get her David back. Whilst Sally is researching the beast, you get to learn more about David’s heritage and the aftermath of his ancestor’s dabbling with ancient folklore. Told through Matthew’s journals, the scenes with Matthew meeting had a mystical feel to it and you have a sense that something will go wrong. Usually when I read any of Jasper Bark’s books, I am reading it with a grimace on my face, but this book was so different. This played more with my mind. The repetitive voice sounded sinister and for me Hettie was more horrific than the beast as it certainly knew how to play Sally. Whilst reading the scenes in the forest I had goosebumps and you could sense that it was leading up to a final showdown. The suspense carried throughout the story, but even I could not predict the outcome. You could feel the desperation in Sally and the need to help David and his dark moods. I read a shortened version in the Green and Pleasant land anthology, and this new revised version had more depth. It felt more intense and as it is a novella a quick read. Another great story from Jasper Bark