Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry

May 7, 2011

Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He’s a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory and the father of two fine lads.

He also has a secret mistress.

One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood.

But his are not the only secrets in this marriage, and as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realises that Patricia has more than a few of her own…

Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry is the second release from Spectral Press.

This short story takes place over the course of a single, grey winter afternoon. At first glance Peter and Patricia would appear to have everything you could ask for. He is a self made man, wealthy and powerful. She is a kept woman and has the luxury to spend her time doing exactly what she wants.

Shortly after arriving at the exhibition an argument ensues, and Peter storms off rather than admit he may be in some way responsible. He finds himself alone in the forest and forced to confront three increasingly challenging and gruesome pieces of art, that are both disturbing as they are personal.

The story focuses largely on Peter and his relationships with those around him, in particular his wife. It swiftly becomes evident that beneath his well crafted smile, he is an utterly self absorbed character. Every action and reaction is dependent on how the situation will affect him.

The setting of the forest works well. It taps into the Peter’s primal fears of loneliness, self-doubt and the guilt. The dark shadows and unfamiliar sounds add a sinister tone that leaps of the page.

As with Spectral’s first release, What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon, the writing is of the highest calibre. Though only twenty two pages long, Fry’s prose contains genuine insight into his characters. Peter and Patricia are fully fleshed out and have all the same problems and insecurities that any normal couple could have. When Peter is forced to deal with his own failings, rather than avoid them as he has done historically, the reader gets a real sense of his mental state.

For the longest time I’ve avoided short stories as I felt that there was nothing being written that appeals to my tastes. Since being exposed to the works that Spectral Press are publishing I am pleased to say my opinion has reversed. They have managed to score two for two so far and I look forward to their next release.

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Abolisher of Roses


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