October 2012, $2.99, kindle e-Book; $7.99, paperback
Reviewed by Michael R. Collings
Edgar is a ghost…perhaps. That is one of the many things he is not quite certain about. All he knows is that each night, he must follow a set pattern as he moves through Sunfall Manor, an old house that has long since been divided into five apartments. Night after night, he watches as the eccentric occupants create and experience their own particular brands of hell, all the while wondering who—and what—he truly is. He must spend a certain amount of time with each, unable to communicate through speech but able to move objects in a rather unghost-like way and, through this ability, influence the living. His influence can be pernicious—in one case it leads to violent, bloody death; or it can be innocuous, even beneficial.
Each vignette allows Giglio to explore the wreckage the various occupants have made of their own lives, wittingly or un-, and to tie them into the underlying story that will become Edgar’s…once he discovers the truth about himself, about Sunfall Manor, and about the world that he now inhabits.
The individual tales range from tragic to something verging on comic; from a wasted drug-dealer to a marriage long since gone sour to a lost soul whose only contact with reality is through the puppets he so desperately wants to control. Each is like a small gem, polished and carefully faceted—some sparkle with the authenticity of diamonds, others reveal the falsity and perversions that can underlie the glittering surface.
But ultimately the true story—the one that bears the burden of all the rest and helps make sense of them—is Edgar’s. Step by step, as he followed the ordained path that each night leads him to a long-abandoned garret stuffed with ancient, disintegrating newspapers, he comes closer to the cataclysmic knowledge that will reveal all secrets and set him on a final quest for revenge and the damnation it entails.
The stories are fascinating, the characters intriguing enough to sustain the overriding sense of the paranormal. In an afterword, Giglio indicates his intention to write more—novels and novellas—based on Sunfall, a small town on the Nebraska plains. If Sunfall Manor is any indication, there are sure to be thrills, chills, and horrors aplenty in the future tales.
A final note: During April, Peter Giglio has offered to donate the proceeds from sales of Sunfall Manor to Holly Hautala, as a tribute to Rick Hautala and the enormous influence he had on horror and dark fantasy. The novella is a solid bet for buying and reading at any time; right now, it can help in a special, highly worthwhile cause.
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