By Gary Fry

Reviewed by Paul McAvoy

I decided to review World Wide Web and Other Lovecraftian Upgrades on its own merits as a work of horror, rather than to refer to the Mythos or Cthulhu--mostly because I have not read any Lovecraft in a while. There will be many people out there who, like me, will wish to read this as it is by Gary Fry, and not because it is a homage to Mr Lovecraft. Not every horror reader reads Lovecraft, and most people will buy this work as it is by an up and coming writer of horror.

The collection begins with the novella World Wide Web. It is the story of a thirteen year old boy called Adam who has recently moved to a quiet coastal Yorkshire village with his mother. His parents are divorced and his mother is a washed up B movie actress who lives in the past and drinks too much as she watches her old films over and over again. His father lives in Leeds and is a rich business tycoon. The Yorkshire village is dull to Adam and he yearns for something to happen. Hell, he almost prays for anything to happen... and he gets his wish. He meets an old writer, Philip Howard, and discovers strange drawings deep inside a cave. Oh, and that something beneath the village is stirring, awakening in fact... Mr Fry holds all his cards firmly to his chest as, through wonderful dialogue, he gently guides you through the story, but you have to be wary, as amid this dialogue there are sharp bits, there are teeth and they can bite! Here we have a young boy whom the reader can relate to immensely. Most of us have mothers we care about, and the lead character cares a lot about his mother--her drinking, her reliving of the olden days, and other things we find out later...

After this we have a clutch of short offerings, beginning with Unnaturally Selected, a page-turning tale of Darwinian theories and mutations. Charles Pinner and John Baptist were bitter rivals in college, but Charles has not heard from his old nemesis is years, until he receives a letter from him out of the blue which aims to shatter his beliefs to pieces. Servant of the Order is next, a spellbinding read of mystery and mounting fear--it is well written, but I felt the story was a bit confusing. Things unseen and in dark shadows, paranoia and fear appear to be the key elements to these tales, and the story Three is One Too Many or Two Few emphasises that point. It is the tale of a young man alone in a grotty flat and details his account of what is going on in his paranoid and deluded life, via a Dictaphone--a suggestion by his psychiatrist--but is he as deluded as he thinks? In the World is about drifting into an alternative reality and we finish with the stylish Bodying Forth. Not before we read Out of Body, Out of Mind though! This is an edgy tale where a young male goes to seek solace in the English Lakes, to finish his dissertation and generally chill out. However, he witnesses strange visions, which cannot possibly be true... and is about to find horror waiting for him...

On the whole I found World Wide Web an enjoyable read. I like to read prose that make you want to reread sentences and think. Fry is heading towards the top of small press horror fiction and may one day soar to greater heights. He is serving his craft as a writer and he has a lot to learn. I felt his style could be too padded at times which distracted me from the stories themselves, but on the whole I liked what I read, particularly the broody World Wide Web itself. As I have said, I have been an admirer of Gary Fry for a while. I admire the fact he appears to have decided what to do with his art and gone for it. He seems to be a prolific author as well as a fine editor and publisher.

World Wide Web and Other Lovecraftian Upgrades by Gary Fry. Published by Humdrumming, tpb, 164pp, £7.99UK (for other countries, P&P etc refer to publisher's website). Available from the publisher and other online outlets such as Amazon UK

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