Side Real Press
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
There is a type of dark fiction which is not meant to scare or elicit terror or disgust, but rather to slightly disturb in a subtler, intellectual way which reveals a true literary value. Louis Marvick is one of the few new authors endowed with the ability to disquiet by means of an elegant, classy narrative style that affects the reader’s brain rather than their gut.
The present collection, published by UK-based Real Side Press in a gorgeous hardcover edition, assembles ten stories — four brand new; six previously appeared in limited edition anthologies.
“Pockets of Emptiness” is a gloomy story of depression and surrender to Fate’s cruel whims. The puzzling and complex “Is for Ilinx,” set in a French palace bought by a wealthy but boorish American family, depicts the merging of past and present, conveying a deep sense of suspense and dread. “The Madman of Tosterglope,” a kind of psychological, decadent whodunit revolving around a strange musician, is graced by an extraordinary, evocative prose. In the excellent “Maculate Vision,” a painting inherited by a young profligate displays incredible powers rooted in the Holy Scriptures. “The Conoisseur of Grief” is a superb, introspective story about grief and ghouls who feed on other people’s mourning and pain.
As an elegant writer, Marvick is obviously an admirer of MR James, the master of elegant “ghost” stories. Thus, Jamesian echoes can be found in the outstanding, sinister “Devil’s Music,” a story revolving around a musical artifact with devilish properties. Another splendid tale, “The Mirror of Don Ferrante,” where a haunted mirror constitutes the vengeful gift from a cheated woman, is actually a brilliant sequel to James’ famous story “Casting the Runes”.
Needless to say, Dissonant Intervals is an extremely enjoyable collection perfect for dark fiction connoisseurs.