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  • Writer's pictureBP Gregory

What Are We Reading?: The Narrows, Ronald Malfi

Rating: 5/5 Haunting Visions

Give me the short version: When the plastics factory closed it left Stillwater a rustbelt legacy, and local mythos of what grotesqueries had been pulled from the polluted waters of the Narrows.

I've been judgmental and I think it's time I was big enough to admit it. Basically, on the heels of market saturation I've been skipping with a grimace any book that involved the words vampire, zombie, werewolf; or iterations of the three. So of course I shot myself in the sodding foot by missing The Narrows for so long. Mr Malfi writes about MONSTERS, like in the grand old early seasons of The X Files where OH GOD THE DAMN THING IS COMING UP THROUGH THE PLUMBING, RUN!!! Although of course like all my favourite stories the charm isn't centered in any bogeyman, however lurid. I fell hard for the afflicted citizens of Stillwater. It's via the limits of their understanding that the incomprehensible is embraced, and I was genuinely devastated whenever one of these ordinary struggling souls succumbed to this last violation fate has inflicted on their crumbling town. It's the human touch that makes it real, brings it home; so that you shiver on your couch and think: It could have been me.

Favourite bit:

"Dwight pointed to the overpass made of black stones that spanned the Narrows in a tight little arc, and then he pointed over to the Witch Tree, a creeping, skeletal horror that clawed up out of a base of brownish nettles, its branches like flailing arms, the suggestion of faces etched into its ashy bark. Matthew knew countless stories and rumors surrounding that tree, the most sinister suggesting that the tree had once been a little boy who had broken into an old witch's house and stolen all her sweets."

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