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The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry

What monsters used to achieve with claws, they now manage with pens… 

 Three years ago, Josh lost a lot of money on the unforgiving stock market. Now he’s divorced and living with his teenage daughter in a seaside caravan. Sally wants a tattoo; Josh just needs work.

 For solace, he explores Saltwick Bay, a secluded stretch of beach whose cliff-side rock runs back to the ruthless Jurassic periods. There’s also a rotting boat there, leftover from the violent Second World War.

 But when eerie creatures appear at night, dancing in the silent bay, Josh’s mind starts turning along unfathomable tracks . . . which may lead right back to the birth of tyranny.

 The Respectable Face of Tyranny has a subtle, introspective quality about it that I wasn’t expecting. Josh is an everyman character and suffers the same doubts and worries as many other parents. I’m sure there are plenty readers out there who could easily empathise with his predicament. He is trying his best to provide for his daughter, but fate, or some other higher power, attempts to derail his efforts at every turn. Along with Josh’s own insecurities and fears the isolation of his current situation combine to attack his fragile mental state.

The desolate northeast coast around Whitby is a suitably stark and striking location for Josh’s story. I’ve been lucky enough to travel in this area a number of times and Gary Fry perfectly captures the imposing geography in his tale.

As the plot unfolds a growing sense of unease develops with each passing scene. The months that Josh has spent hiding away from the world have left their mark and the possibility that he may not be able to find his way back from his self imposed exile seem all too real. Fry has left just enough ambiguity in the writing so that it challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions about what is going on. Are Josh’s experiences real or is he starting to suffer the first signs of the same dementia that plagues his mother?

Spectral Press has a knack for publishing short stories and novellas that challenge reader perceptions and this latest release is no exception. For me the best psychological horror feels all too real and I would include Gary Fry’s novella in this select group.

The Respectable Face of Tyranny is published by Spectral Press. For more detail check out their website.


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