The Noctuary
Greg Chapman

Damnation Books, 2011
Review by Matthew Tait

Greg Chapman’s Torment was published in March this year. Now, the Australian author has shifted gears in a largely new direction and created, via The Noctuary, a dark and wandering homage to the tales of old that have inspired him on his journey to publication. Dedicated to both E.A Poe and Clive Barker respectively, a reader will find snapshots of both those muses layered throughout the writing style but interspersed with a brand new voice that is slowly gaining a louder momentum and pitch with each new story to come along.

Simon Ryan is a strung out writer looking to escape the mundane world of writing cheesy biographies for pittance. He dreams of finding an audience for his darker work that would validate his talent as a scribe for fiction. A human audience. What he soon discovers is that there is another audience of a different being entirely … one that lives just beyond the curtain of night and waits patiently for the right voice to come along. His name is Meknok, and he resides in Hell.

A demon muse that appears to would-be scribes in physical form, the creature offers Simon a chance to not only pen tales of horror, but to rewrite history itself for the entertainment of Hell’s legions. Soon Simon is battling a force of wills that will not only see him travel back in time to right childhoods wrongs – but he will walk the halls of purgatory itself and come to understand that those who reside there are even more devious in true form than the most sophisticated imaginings of our greatest horror writers.

Like his previous debut, The Noctuary is a short excursion – but it will certainly appeal to all the fledgling dark fiction writers out there. Whether it’s S. King composing about the creative processes or someone like Greg Chapman, there is something oddly comforting about taking a journey that encapsulates the inventive pain some of us know all too well. Simon Ryan is the everyman in every writer – and a character that might resemble the author’s psyche enough that at times The Noctuary leans more toward metafiction. Here, Greg has created the infant seeds of a new mythology – and one that is rich enough for an encore performance.

There are a number of up and coming writers in the Australian scene that deserve serious attention, and Greg Chapman is at the top of my list to break through sooner rather than later. His stories are compulsory mainstream – yet have just enough unorthodox slippage in the narration to appeal to an alternative audience. Subtly taking off my professional voice here I will state that I know Greg Chapman somewhat – and he is a man that cares about his audience and work. A more authentic writer is hard to come by.

The Noctuary is available now in both print and digital formats from Damnation Books.

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