809 Jacob Street, by Marty Young
After The Bloodwood Staff, by Laura E. Goodin
The Art of Effective Dreaming, by Gillian Polack
Bad Blood, by Gary Kemble
Black City, by Christian Read
The Black Crusade, by Richard Harland
The Body Horror Book, by C. J. Fitzpatrick
Clowns at Midnight, by Terry Dowling
Dead Europe, by Christos Tsiolkas
The Dreaming, by Queenie Chan
Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, by Robert Hood
Full Moon Rising, by Keri Arthur
Gothic Hospital, by Gary Crew
The Grief Hole, by Kaaron Warren
Hollow House, by Greg Chapman
My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier
Path of Night, by Dirk Flinthart
The Last Days, by Andrew Masterson
Lotus Blue, by Cat Sparks
Love Cries, by Peter Blazey, etc (ed)
Nil-Pray, by Christian Read
The Road, by Catherine Jinks
Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott
Sabriel, by Garth Nix
Salvage, by Jason Nahrung
The Scarlet Rider, by Lucy Sussex
Skin Deep, by Gary Kemble
The Tax Inspector, by Peter Carey
Tide of Stone, by Kaaron Warren
The Time of the Ghosts, by Gillian Polack
Vampire Cities, by D'Ettut
While I Live, by John Marsden
OTHER HORROR PAGES
Tide of Stone
by Kaaron Warren, Omnium Gatherum, 2018
A Review by Kyla Lee Ward
"There's one thing out there... you'll need to look for it. You'll know it when you find it."
Phillipa Muskett, appointed as Keeper for 2014, receives all sorts of advice. She herself has been preparing her whole life, in various ways, for the year she will spend in the Time Ball Tower, tending to those imprisoned there. The experience either makes a person or breaks them irrecoverably, and she is determined to be among those who succeed.
Part personal horror, part Stanford prison experiment, part sheer poetry, Tide of Stone is a masterpiece. Never afraid to ask the big questions or to place evil under her literary microscope, in this, her fifth novel, Warren opens with the question of what is normal and abnormal, and what depends on the segregation of the two. Normal prisoners are not kept in the Tower; this is a fate reserved for "The heinous, the unrepentant, the undeniably guilty." Those for whom no amount of suffering could possibly be enough. Since the institution of the Tower and the Treatment in 1869, there have been those who have disagreed with the consensus, but in Tempustown, they are never many. "We're keeping society safe, Phillipa," her grandmother tells her. "Don't ever forget the importance of what you're doing."
Since 1869. The reader will glimpse every single year.
The reports left by previous Keepers introduce the Tower, its grand mission and the inmates. But although Phillipa is told they are the truest things she will ever read, they are far from transparent. One goes to the trouble of explaining that his predecessor didn't actually write his report, others that the Keeper before them was hallucinating, insane, or died. What is clear is that such things were never meant to become common knowledge, and that nothing can truly prepare someone for what lies in the tower.
The two worlds of Tempustown (three hours drive from Perth) and the Tower are evoked vividly, with competing textures of salt, skin and spice / rust, stone and lingering stench. Differing qualities of sunlight. Phillipa has a whole life to leave behind, that dovetails with life in contemporary Australia in ways both subtle and not-so. But beyond this, Warren has created a book in which the actual process of reading becomes unnerving. The ball drops. Dates accrue. Six words on an otherwise blank page. The ball drops. The tiniest details become potentially significant to the reader, just as they have to the inmates. The ball drops. The length of Phillipa's report, when compared to that of her predecessors, inspires alarm and mistrust. The dread of what might happen wars with the fear that nothing will, that just as the founders imagined, this is the worst horror possible. And yet, it is insanely hard to put this book down. The ball drops.
This book contains so many conflicts. Society's view of the elderly, as both repositories of wisdom and as a problem of disposal. Institutional cruelty versus that of the individual. But for me, the overriding theme that emerged was of duty. The duty to maintain tradition, to uphold received morality, as opposed to the duty of each generation to examine those things and decide for themselves.
Of course, the data is skewed.
Of course, vested interest doesn't play fair.
The ball drops.
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