Nightjar Press is an independent publisher of limited edition individual short story chapbooks. It’s delightful to see single short stories published with such care. Each of the four stories I was sent have rather ace cover illustrations and cost £3.
It’s difficult to review short stories without being spoilerific, but I’ll give it a go:
My knowledge of Greek mythology is minimal and it is with a smidge of shame that I admit I wasn’t familiar with Asterius before reading this tale. I searched Wikipedia afterwards and it seems that Burns may be riffing off Jorge Luis Borges 1947 short story “The House of Asterion.” Whilst knowledge of that may enhance the reading pleasure I don’t feel it marred my own enjoyment.
The narrator is an amusing man, a self-important academic who has invited a woman to dinner. He speaks enthusiastically about the Greeks, keen to “illuminate” her on the subject. He knowingly tells the reader “I like to begin my social evenings with a little minor irritation.” Passages on Asterius are interspersed with Harry and Heather’s evening in this neat story with a dark heart.
Field by Tom Fletcher
The first line immediately had me wanting to know more: “When Neil Kingsley came around, I’d hide under the window-sill and pretend not to be in.”
Remains by Ga Pickin
“A head wind was getting up, and it sighed against his ears like Chinese whispers. Disdaining his choice of warm clothing, its chilled breath slid down his collar and up his sleeve, between buttons and past his T-shirt, touching his bare skin.”
This is a marvelously atmospheric and creepy story. The narrator, an experienced walker, has set out to meet friends in a holiday cottage. The light is fading and the batteries of his torch stop working. It’s beautifully written, the landscape becoming eerier as the story progresses. I raced to the end, anxious to know what would happen.
I can genuinely say that each of the stories is of a high quality and I really love what Nicholas Royle is doing for the short story here. Bravo.