Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett, we all offer different content so if you haven't checked the other stops please do.
About the book:
A startlingly fresh and accomplished literary debut in the socio-satirical tradition of Rosemary’s Baby and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, The Pale Ones addresses the parlous state of the modern gig economy, and the enormity of the deal forced by big tech upon the marginalized, the precarious and the excluded. As Britain’s social landscape is remade around us, horror fiction offers a unique perspective on what ails us. The Pale Ones is a modern parable of the deal-with-the-devil we have accepted from the tech giants who dominate our economy, exploiting the low-paid and self-employed. A young freelance bookseller on the make falls under the spell of an older expert, Harris, who isn’t at all what at first he seems. The book takes us on a journey through the edgelands of the UK and the lives of the losers in our current social contract, where we quickly discover that it is not only secondhand books lining the shelves of the high street charity shops that are up for sale. Blending the longstanding UK tradition of ghostly ‘Weird Fiction’ (MR James, Arthur Machen, Robert Aickman) with the social bite of the contemporary US indie horror renaissance (Get Out, It Follows) and the literary heft of the new horror (Mark Danielewski, Paul Tremblay), The Pale Ones is a modern British triumph.
Available to buy ebook and tree book format from Amazon HERE
About the Author:
Bartholomew Richard Emenike Bennett was born in Leicester, the middle son of an American father and English mother. He has studied and worked in the US and New Zealand, and has a First Class Honours degree in Literature from the University of East Anglia. The Pale Ones is his first published work, although he has been writing fiction, long-form and short, since 2002. • compelling parallels to Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected • novella size perfect to read in one sitting on short journeys • horror genre of specific interest to those drawn by weird tales and the occult
The Pale Ones by Bartholomew Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time Taken to Read - 1 day
Pages - 128
Publisher - Inkandescent
Source - Review Copy
Blurb from Goodreads
Pulped fiction just got a whole lot scarier…
Few books ever become loved. Most linger on undead, their sallow pages labyrinths of old, brittle stories and screeds of forgotten knowledge. And other things besides...
Paper-pale forms that rustle softly through their leaves. Ink-dark shapes swarming in shadow beneath faded type. And an invitation...
Harris delights in collecting the unloved. He wonders if you'd care to to donate. A small something for the odd, pale children no-one has seen. An old book, perchance? Neat is sweet; battered is better.
Broken spine or torn binding, stained or scarred - ugly doesn't matter. Not a jot. And if you’ve left a little of yourself between the pages – a receipt or ticket, a mislaid letter, a scrawled note or number — that’s just perfect. He might call on you again.
Hangover Square meets Naked Lunch through the lens of a classic M. R. James ghost story. To hell and back again (and again) via Whitby, Scarborough and the Yorkshire Moors. Enjoy your Mobius-trip.
Told in first person narration the book dealer obtains and sells second hand books always looking for an overlooked special edition. It brings him into the path of Harris another collector of books, a dealer who isn't exactly what he seems. The narrator is taken on one of the weirdest and challenging journey's with Harris, along with the reader, not knowing what is coming and often not knowing what is happening.
This is by far one of the most unique/different books I have read, I felt like I was on a bit of a trip not knowing what was happening and having to re read what I had read. There are subtle hints, subtext that if you aren't paying attention you may well miss. Craftily written this debut has an unnerving feel pretty much from the beginning, something is afoot, danger is looming you (and the narrator) just aren't sure what or where it is coming from.
The writing style itself is also something I haven't came across before and I have read thousands of books. Instead of speech quotation the author has gone for Em dash (longer version of a dash) at the start of any speaking character, only at the start with a full stop really the only thing at the end of the sentence. That took me a wee bit to get used to but it made sure I paid attention to the words I was taking in, a smart trick.
There is uncertainty in almost every conversation with Harris and I had so many ideas about his motivations, his actions and what was happening in a scene only to re read it and change my mind to something else. I think this would make for a great reading group choice because there are so many potential conclusions to their interactions, the character(s), the actions I think you could debate almost ever scene. Creepiness seeps through every other sentence, pushing the reader and book seller to a shocking finale, 3/5 for me this time. It will be interesting to see what Bennett creates next, I will be watching!