Tom Fletcher’s ‘Field’ – My First Nightjar Chapbook

I last blogged about my recent acquisition of the latest Nightjar chapbooks and my prior anticipation for their arrival and my reading thereof.

This latter goal has now been achieved.

As an aside, since I’ve not read any of Christopher Burns’ work before, I shall give a brief review of ‘Lexicon’/Lexicon* – I liked it, especially the unreliability of the narrator; the shifts between the focused first person and the lexical overarching information were interesting and rounded the story out well. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it as scary or unsettling as I’d hoped, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Alas, the title of this post might suggest that my main aim is to review Tom Fletcher’s story, ‘Field’/Field*, and were you to surmise that you would be correct. However, it was also intended to provide you the chance to win the book itself. Tom’s blog currently has an exquisite corpse running, with the chance to win a copy of ‘Field’/Field. Hopefully my review will inspire you to enter through instilling a desire to read the self-same story.

‘Field’/Field opens with third-person narrator introducing the protagonist Tony. (Fletcher starts his exquisite corpse with the same description, although the story proceeds in a largely different way.) Tony is a peculiar character, and whilst I didn’t explicitly dislike him, I found myself thinking of him in distaste. Despite this, Fletcher’s narration keeps the reader intrigued and we remain interested in what happens to Tony.

Fletcher’s The Leaping has been widely lauded as standing out for its strong, suspenseful tension at the beginning; this is a feature most definitely present in ‘Field’/Field. This is especially true when the protagonists arrive at the scene of a crime, and something is not quite right. Interestingly, this occurs at the shore of a lake – revealing a tendency for Fletcher to use this motif (the eponymous Leaping of his debut takes place at Wastwater shore, and his forthcoming novel is entitled The Thing on the Shore). Indeed, this is actually directly where the first horror emerges, albeit not in the way that you may be thinking now.

I felt a very satisfying chill as I was reading this climax – the kind where it feels your heart drops out from beneath you. I don’t remember feeling this tangible dread since reading a story of Ramsay Campbell’s called ‘Peep,’ which you can find in Steven Jones’ Best New Horror 19.

Paul Magrs says that Fletcher “builds up tension and dread meticulously, and to grim effect.” He is spot on.

* What with these being short stories, I feel that I should notify using inverted commas; I am drawn towards italicised titles because they are published as complete books in their own right. What will win out? It’ll probably take more chapbooks before I’ve fallen into my own convention.

Tom Fletcher’s ‘Field’ – My First Nightjar Chapbook

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