After reading The Leaping I was eager to engage myself in the next Tom Fletcher novel. So this last weekend I reveled in the opportunity to begin reading while surrounded by a similar environment to the story’s setting. Huddled up under mass of weatherproof clothing I perched on a sea wall. Overlooking the blue blanket that stretched to the horizon I opened up to encounter The Thing On The Shore.
Once again Fletcher brings his reader into the sullen realm of the call-center. Having worked in a call-center himself, Fletcher commits to revealing the sad truth behind many faceless corporations, a truth of despotism and dehumanization, not solely by the draconian boss but also by the calling customers. Artemis, the manager of the Mancunian call-center in The Leaping, is transferred to improve the statistics of a sister company in Cumbria. Here Artemis becomes a fully-fledged character and the catalyst for a sickening plot to gain access to a power which dwells within another plane of existence, an interstitial world.
Arthur, our lead character and call-center pawn, struggles to maintain an ordinary life while supporting his father who has become unhinged since the death of his wife. Gradually Arthur’s mind begins to dip into an extraordinary world that may explain his father’s ramblings. He wanders from reality as we know it, into what is at first perceived as a bad acid trip. Then something begins to permeate his consciousness, terrified but unnervingly intrigued, Arthur becomes aware of a world beyond his understanding. From this paranormal dimension new creatures of horror emerge. Bulbous, humanoid crabs, invading worms that just won’t quit, an unexplained giant and above all The Thing. These strange beings penetrate the reality Arthur lives by, ascending from the depths of a supernatural world found within the static of telecommunications.
Fletcher does not entirely aim his focus on the uncanny to evoke horror in his story. The untamed coast of Whitehaven is used as the background to the novel. Along with the workplace, a milieu of muted experience and the fantastical world of wires, the coast of Whitehaven exudes vitality. The morose rock-faces and taciturn sea-walls open up to an ocean of sensuality that pulses with the energy of another life source. Each element of Fletcher’s second novel arouses concern and are brought together to make for a truly original and ominously relatable horror.
Head over to the Quercus website for an interview with Tom Fletcher…