The Twilight Pariah

December 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

pariahThe Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford


So, apparently Jeffrey Ford has been around a while. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of him, but then again, Laird Barron and John Langan eluded me for a while, and they’re the closest authors I can think of to compare to Ford. It’s taking me a while to catch up with the “new horror”, so I guess I should forgive myself for not knowing about Ford.

The Twilight Pariah is a novella, and focuses on a group of three friends, who were close in high school but are now in college and see each other a lot less. Their summers are their times to reconnect, but during the summer before the narrator’s senior year, the three are pulled into an impromptu archaeological dig by Maggie, the lone female in this group of friends who tends to lead the others on their group projects. The dig takes place at an old, abandoned house in their hometown, and what they turn up in the dig changes their summer in unimaginable ways.

Ford is an accomplished writer, and¬†knows how to turn a phrase: “A cloud of smoke from his constant cig habit hung above him like a blank thought balloon.” He keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace, while also keeping the characters’ own concerns front and center along with the plot. Aside from the story being about a haunting, it’s also about how childhood friends grow apart, and Ford writes the story in such a way as to have us question which conflict is more tragic.

One thing I found to be unique in this story is how Ford approached the haunting itself. The supernatural isn’t broached like one would approach a wild animal, with tentative steps and one hand out in front of us; the supernatural is the wild animal, leaping out without pretense or warning. Ford eschews the slow build-up of of unnatural happenings leading up to a big reveal, instead choosing to start with that reveal to raise the tension as high as possible right from the start. This might be a decision based on the length of the work, since it wouldn’t work as well for a full novel, but either way, it was a surprise and a shock, which is a nice reaction to get from a horror story.

The story isn’t without some issues (the pace moves almost too quickly, and the secondary characters are drawn so thinly they’re almost transparent), but the rest of it works so well, it’s easy to overlook its shortcomings. I like Ford’s style and the way he thinks, so I’ll have to add him to my list of authors to watch. I’d like to delve into one of his novels before going full-hog into his backlist, though.

Started: September 13, 2017
Finished: September 14, 2017

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