Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt: A Gothic Short Story by Patricia Duffaud
|Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt: A Gothic Short Story by Patricia Duffaud|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Enjoyable - if you enjoy a good shudder! - short story with a strong Gothic flavour. What is the biggest danger for Amy? Ghouls? Or her own mind?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 16||Date: March 2015|
|Publisher: Amazon Media|
Amy works for Claralingua, a London education company that runs English schools all over the world, and Amy is travelling to Gulavstadt, a remote town in Eastern Europe, to inspect one of the schools. Gulavstadt is a town of myths and the setting of a recent horror film, The Thing Behind the Trees, exploiting them - featuring medieval, flesh-eating ghouls with mouths lined with the sharpest of teeth. But myths don't bother Amy...
... what does bother Amy is what happens at the airport. Aggressive guards confiscate her medication. Amy is pretty sure she can manage without it for a few days but the loss is still on her mind as she travels by train through the forests to her remote destination. The old man on the train is kind, the man sent to meet her is kind, the people at the school are all kind. But the worry about the medication lurks in the back of Amy's mind.
And then Amy starts to see things that shouldn't be there. Is her unmedicated mind playing tricks on her? Or is something more sinister at foot?
Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt is a well-crafted Gothic short story. The setting is suitably foreign - in all senses - and the tension ratchets up remorselessly. The story is told from Amy's point of view but we know her as an unreliable narrator right from the start. But we also suspect that the setting can't be trusted either. It's a study of the human mind and of fear and paranoia. It really did make me shudder as it descended to its final gruesome denouement.
If you enjoy a good session of Gothic shiver and like the short story format, I think you'll enjoy Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt. It takes all the historical tropes of Gothic horror - ghouls, forests, remote settlements - and blends them with the preoccupations of modern society - mental health, medication, mass entertainment. And it's a clever mix.
It's difficult to review a single short story without giving it all away, so I won't say too much more other than Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt is well worth the 99p it'll cost you to download to your Kindle and a good way of introducing yourself to a new author. It's well written, genuinely creepy and perfectly understands both the Gothic genre and the short story form. I really enjoyed it.
You might also enjoy Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Gris Grimly, in which Poe's wonderful short stories are given even more gothic atmosphere by Gris Grimly's outstanding illustrations. Younger readers (and older ones, too) will love Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley.
You can read more about Patricia Duffaud here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt: A Gothic Short Story by Patricia Duffaud at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Beyond the Trees of Gulavstadt: A Gothic Short Story by Patricia Duffaud at Amazon.com.
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