Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Recommendation Redux: What Gets Left Behind by Mark West

I originally reviewed Mark West's What Gets Left Behind in October 2012 upon its release as a limited-run chapbook from Spectral Press. As it's now been released as an ebook (UK | US) I thought I'd repost my original review, minority edited.

What Gets Left Behind is the third Mark West story I've read [I've obviously read more in the intervening years..!] and possibly the best, although on an even-numbered day I might give that accolade to The Mill - a novella which has some similarities to this work.

The story is partially set in the 80s and partially in the present; the central character Mike Bergen has returned to the town where he spent his childhood, during which time a serial killer stalked local girls. West's evocation of the 80s is note-perfect - not just in the period details like Star Wars t-shirts and Noel Edmonds (and excitingly for this reader East Midlands Today!) but in the recreation of a time when no one had mobile phones and kids played outside at "the Rec" because there was nothing else to do. West is a more realistic writer than someone like Ramsey Campbell (whose realism is shot through with subjectivity) and there is a simplicity and clarity to his prose that's probably hard won. It certainly fits this story.

Like The Mill, What Gets Left Behind's core is as much emotional as horrific; although the horror, when it comes, is gripping and effective. I particularly liked the switches between the two time-frames, a device which reminded me of Stephen King's IT. The sense of history repeating itself, of the past not being over but haunting Mike's present is excellently done.

1 comment:

Mark West said...

Thank you, my friend