Friday, 24 April 2020

Book #34

Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan

Some things can’t be spoken about in the light of day. But we can visit our fears at night, in the dark. We can turn them over and weigh them in our hands and maybe that will protect us from them. But maybe not.

There was something not quite right with this from the beginning. The dark cover, the unusual font, the structure. Immediately, I was overcome by something, and slowly, as I read, that something reached out of the pages and smothered me in it's arms. A constant feeling of something lingering behind me, an unknown anxiety behind my eyeballs, a relatable nostalgia, a plague. I’m both glad and sorry I’ve now turned the final page.

Logan plucks at all of your fears here, even fears you weren’t sure you had, and holds them in front of your face, forcing you to look. For women especially, these fears span the horrors of childbirth, being completely alone, and being taken.

There’s hints of folklore and fairytales cast in an even darker light. Logan displaces form by introducing stories with grim and overwhelming footnotes, stories told in the form of questionnaires, stories which unfold through the completion of estate agent notes, stories which are all the more terrifying as they’re only a paragraph long. It’s ghastly, it’s horrific, and for me it also felt personal, which added to my fright.

When I was younger my parents would often take my brother and I to Camelot theme park in Lancashire. A few years ago, I discovered the park had been closed in 2012, and left to rot, rollercoasters still standing, the huge castle entrance still looming, albeit covered in graffiti and mildew. Some nights I’d pore over pictures of how it looks now, successfully frightening myself with shadowy childhood memories battling the images my eyes were taking in from my Google search. This habit would repeat itself once every few months. To discover here that Logan has written a story about Camelot, abandoned, shot something chilling straight into my heart. I read that story three times and I don’t think it will ever leave me. It felt as though she’d been there with me on those late night self-scare rituals, as though she already knew what frightened me.

And this is it; this is the whole point. This book will frighten you. There will be at least one wee story in here that will dig right under your skin and stay there. You’ll think you’ve forgotten until it sticks it’s needly fingers into you and makes you remember. Logan’s skill is overwhelming, and I find myself perpetually remembering her words, and feeling, again, how she made me feel.

This is a book to be locked away in case anything can somehow crawl out of it.