THE PHANTASMAGORICAL IMPERATIVE AND OTHER FABRICATIONS By D.P. Watt, Egaeus Press, h/b £30, www.egaeuspress.com
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Watt’s collection of short stories is beautifully presented – well illustrated and luxuriously bound, it is a joy to hold and turn the pages. It opens with the titular tale, which sees an unusual circus – The Phantasmagorical Imperative – coming to a sleepy Cornish village. One reclusive resident, Eugene Miles, joins the rest of the village to watch the only performance that is given. After the show, he finds that although everyone watched the performers together, they remember seeing different things – astonishing conjurings and transformations. Mystified, he goes back to speak to the ringmaster, and finds that he cannot assign a logical explanation to what he has seen…
Other tales see a photographer who seems able to cure illnesses through his medium, an unusual collection of musical instruments, a ghastly jack-in-the-box that becomes an obsession for its owner and an author whose protégé’s tales become reality.
Watt’s work is as well written as it is presented – tales of the unusual, the macabre, and sometimes, the downright odd. The characters and settings come alive on the page, and it is a truly enjoyable read that is easy to pick up and lose yourself in.