Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Motorcycle Man - or the post where Cate attempts a review

Fourtold is a collection of four novellas, which refuse to be pigeon-holed into any one genre, scraped from the weird mind of Michael Stone.

SAN FERRY ANN is, in my opinion, the most haunting of the four stories. Set during the great influenza pandemic that swept Europe in 1918, Spencer and Mackenzie are reluctant to return to their pre-war lives in England and Australia. There are flashes of magic and darkness (especially when we journey back to the trenches of WW1) as our heroes stop to help a sick girl and she in turn helps them.

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF KASPER CLARK is my favourite story. A surreal tale about a man who goes to a special clinic to have his mouth removed from his forehead and placed back on his chin. A funny, dark tale that proves that no matter how odd the method of reconstruction (no plastics are involved) it can become very, very addictve - just ask Jigsaw.

THE TERRACOTTA WARRIOR is a good old-fashioned monster story set in the early 20th century. Solomon Barley, an insurance assessor, arrives on his motorbike at the ancestral home of Charles Morris who has just taken delivery of a terracotta statue that he has had shipped from China. Both men soon discover that something unnatural hides within the statue and it is looking for a fight. Creepy and unsettling, this tale will make you look twice at the Emperor's famous terracotta army. In fact, I'm sure I can hear their boots marching even as I type this. (*reviewer shudders*)

LEMON MAN is both the most bizarre and the most normal story in the collection. It is a story in two parts. We have the trials of the narcoleptic Russell who is dealing with sleep paralysis and the break up of his marriage, nestling alongside Heaven and its angels. I don't know what else to say other than read it.

With Fourtold, Michael Stone proves a master and diverse storyteller who I get the feeling has a love of classic motorcycles.

7 comments:

Jamie Eyberg said...

I'll read anything by someone who like classic bikes. you are the second good review I have read of this book.

Michael Stone said...

Classic bikes or modern bikes, they're all good, Cate!

Many many thanks for this review. D'you mind if I link to it from my LJ, and from a thread on the Graveside Tales forum where I've linked to other reviews of Fourtold?

Aaron Polson said...

Sounds like I should read this one...nice and darkly weird.

Kim Kasch said...

The Terracotta Warrior - is that where the latest Mummy show came from?

Catherine J Gardner said...

Of course I don't mind Michael. I've also put the review up on Amazon UK.

Jamie & Aaron - I highly recommend it (obviously).

Carrie Harris said...

Yeah, this isn't something I would probably pick up on a normal day, but I think you've sold me. Thanks for introducing me to a book I might not have otherwise found!

Catherine J Gardner said...

I seem to find most of the books I want to purchase by browsing the internet these days. Without the good old www I would never have discovered this book.