Spectral Press, 80 p, p/b, Â£12.50,Â LINK
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Still Life is the first novella to come from Tim Lebbon in a while. Coldbrook, Toxic City, The Heretic Land and Echo City are his past novels and short story collection he’s had published before 2013 and on the strength of those he has penned what first seems like a romantic look at the lives of a couple who have moved to a small, close knit village. Everything seems perfect for Marc and Jenni, but while Jenni enjoys the calm nature of their relationship something stirs deep in Marc’s psyche to instil in him a need for upheaval. He seems to want his life to change in a dark and dramatic way. His wish is granted when out of nowhere an army of unknown evil beings comes to destroy the villagers. As Jenni has a family to look after, and Marc has tired of family life, he sets out to take on the evil first hand, but doesn’t survive their onslaught as they prove too powerful for him and all the villagers who stand up to them.
Jenni has to exist on her own after this and has to watch what she says in public as some of the surviving villagers have been influenced so much they have sided with the evil. These are called Finks for some bizarre reason, yet still the evil has no name. There is hope through all this, though as her now dead boyfriend, Marc communicates with her from a pool, now tells Jenni to fight them with all she’s got. If she is going to save the village, she has to take action where once she would have sat back and let her boyfriend to the work. So life for Jenni who is our heroine in the latter part of the book isn’t as rosy as at the beginning of the story. What was a wonderful relationship turned sour due to the evil, yet it also feels like her lover had unleashed them on the village. This thought makes the story more terrifying than the fact they don’t have a name and no one knows where they have come from.
This book is designed for those who don’t want to invest too much time in a long book. 80 pages is enough to get to grips with as there are enough characters, development and story to immerse yourself into without feeling as though you are plodding through a much longer winded story. Spectral Press has in its wisdom decided to put a limited edition label on Still Life by only printing 225 copies, so it’s advisable to get a copy before they go.