While Christopher Fowler has toiled for several years in the crime genre with his delightfully quirky Bryant and May novels, he has made no secret of his love for the supernatural (nourished by the great English ghost story writers and endless afternoons spent in cinemas watching Hammer films), and he has allowed this predilection to re-surface – with pleasurable results — in this characteristically ingenious and well-written ghost story set in rural Southern Spain. Susan Hill apart (who, with The Woman in Black, virtually colonised the English ghost story), it’s good to see other writers such as Kim Newman (with his An English Ghost Story) reinvigorating the form, which as Fowler authoritatively demonstrates, has a great deal of mileage left still. The setting in Nyctophobia is Hyperion House, symmetrical but disturbing in that one half of the house remains perpetually dark while the other is always in light. The house’s new owner Callie Shaw investigates the eldritch history of her purchase and makes a startling discovery in the under-visited servants’ quarters at the rear of the house. As with the best in supernatural stories (such as those by arch-practitioner MR James), Fowler demonstrates that the medium – as well as chilling the blood – can be a repository for some truly elegant writing; very much the case here.
Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler is published by Solaris