"The Hole in the Wall" by Clare Fisher is another mid-length piece (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel) of the type which I have been trying to promote on this blog because it is so under-represented in modern fiction (but I recognise that I may now be in severe danger of boring people to death with this point). Luckily, we live in the age of the e-reader, which seems to be (slowly) helping to create more of a market for mid-length fiction - so maybe, eventually, I will stop going on about it quite so much....
“The Hole in the Wall” was recommended to me by Frank
Burton, who runs Philistine Press (see this post), after I reviewed a novel by another author
from the same stable, "The Third Person" by Stephanie Newell. And I think Frank is probably right that if
you liked that one, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one too.
“The Hole in the Wall” explores similarly dark childhood
territory and in that respect, it reminded me a little of Ian McEwan’s “The
Cement Garden.” Caroline and Michael are
middle class academics with a young son, Oscar.
They live in a house with a hole in the wall – the mysterious contents
of which are at the centre of this story.
Oscar meets a girl called Treasure, of whom both his parents are rather
wary, since she appears to come from a much more deprived background. Those concerns appear to be justified when
Oscar starts having nightmares and goes missing from school. But the real mystery has to do with
Treasure’s past and the reason she has been hanging around Caroline and
The story is cleverly told from 5 different perspectives –
those of Caroline, Oscar, Michael, Treasure and her brother, Jazz – and with
each shift in the narrative voice, we are given a new piece of the jigsaw
puzzle. Another reviewer felt that some
of the characters were more compelling than others, but I was sufficiently
carried along by the story that I didn’t find that to be a problem. It would also have been easy with this kind
of subject matter to rely on the reader’s natural concern for the children in
order to keep the narrative ticking along – but I felt sympathy for most of the
main adult characters as well.
The subject matter is undoubtedly dark – but one of the good
things about fiction at this type of length is that, as a reader, you are less
likely to start feeling that the author is beating you about the head with the
grimness of it all. In this case, I felt
that the focus was where it should be – on telling a good story in exactly the
right number of words. So I will certainly be looking out for more from this author.
At the time of writing, The Hole in the Wall was available free of charge from Smashwords. There are some interviews with the author here and here. And some of other her work (also free) is available here:
In : Book reviews
Tags: "clare fisher" "the hole in the wall"
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