Patrick McCabe - Hello and Goodbye (4 stars)

A twin set of Hallowe'en stories that terrify the reader using subtle and intelligent methods

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Patrick McCabe - Hello and Goodbye

(Quercus)

Propelled into the literary limelight by his violent 1992 novel The Butcher Boy, Patrick McCabe returns with a duo of Halloween stories, Hello and Goodbye. 'Hello Mr Bones' tells the tale of two lovers, feminist Chris Taylor and Irish teacher Valentine Shannon. A story preoccupied with sexual abuse, trauma and haunting, McCabe revisits themes he has previously addressed but his stark, black humour and twist on popular culture – Betty Boop becomes a symbol of abuse – still propels the reader into a dark, eerie world.

The twin epistle, 'Goodbye Mr Rat', uses similar methods to tell the story of Beni Banikin and Gabriel King. Slower to start and rooted more heavily in the trials of Northern Ireland, it’s equally as haunting in its exploration of society.

Although not quite as sharp as some of McCabe’s previous writing, Hello and Goodbye moves away from the gory horror we’ve become so used to seeing in his work, instead terrifying the reader using subtle and intelligent methods. His prose is as brilliantly macabre as ever.

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