Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner

August 9, 2011

We want to live…

In the ballroom, wallflower mannequins stretch their fingers towards Ron. He can’t ask them to dance. He’s already waltzing with other ghosts.

Someone stole the world while Ron contemplated death. They packed it in a briefcase and dumped him in the halls of the ruined hotel–The Vestibule. A nowhere place.

Last weekend I felt the urge to read another short story and who better to provide that necessary fix than Spectral Press. I’ve previously reviewed their first two releases – What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon and Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry. I enjoyed both so I was looking forward to reading the latest release, Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner.

When the reader is first introduced to Ron Spence he is standing at the edge of the road contemplating jumping in front of oncoming traffic. In a split second the moment passes but Ron is still plagued with doubt and anguish.  There is a real sense here that this is someone who is dying by degrees.

Ron finds his way into foyer of a hotel called The Vestibule. As he roams the building he is faced with opulence on one hand and abandoned shell in the other. Unsure what is real Ron, and as one memory bleeds into another Ron’s tenuous grip on sanity continues to loosen.  He is forced to confront ghosts of the past. Inanimate objects come to life and menace Ron and he looks for a way to escape.

Nowhere Hall struck me as a very intimate tale. The writer exposes Ron’s emotional core, his inner most thoughts and feelings are laid bare. He exists in a state of limbo, barely registering on other people’s radar.  Hardly living at all.

A lot of what happens in this story seems to be deliberately ambiguous. The author has left a lot of the scenes open to the reader’s own interpretation. I’ve read a few other reviews of Nowhere Hall and I wasn’t surprised to see so many differing reactions, all positive I should stress.  I’m sure that if I read this story again I would pick up on other elements that I had missed before.

Spectral Press has delivered another classic tale. If they keep producing such excellent output I will have to take advantage of their subscription service. Each new chapbook swiftly flys off the shelves.

The next release, King Death, is due for release in December. More details are available on the Spectral Press website.

Nowhere Hall


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