Helen McClory – Mayhem & Death (3 stars)

Helen McClory – Mayhem & Death

McClory's collection of short stories is the latest from publishers de jour 404 Ink

Mayhem & Death is the latest release from Helen McClory and independent publishing house 404 Ink – winner of last year's Hot 100 number one slot and publishers of the celebrity endorsed Nasty Women. McClory is 404 Ink's self-confessed dream author and her new collection provides a follow up to Flesh of the Peach and On the Edges of Vision which won the Saltire First Book of the Year 2015.

McClory's newest publication is a dark and forlorn compilation of short stories and a novella that is dedicated to both 'the lonely' and 'the lost' respectively. The different tales meander through enclosed and very different worlds: 'Southerrain' tells the story of a grieving mother who escapes her grief on a day trip to Mallaig; which feels entirely contrasting to the poem of sorts about actor Jeff Goldblum having various existential crises. However, the influence of the Gothic on McClory's writing is palpable in each story as something ominous always seems to loom.

A particular stand out is 'A Voice Spoke to Me At Night' which features a millennial who lives above a Tesco metro and is visited through the mirror by a lonely man from the past. This bizarre visitor speaks a mixture of Scots and Latin and tells the story of a plague of yesteryear. It is strange and unconventional, but the stranger's loneliness feels recognisable. The seemingly separate universes of the stories are sewed together with a vivid sense of nature and animal imagery that connects the patchwork of emotions in each tale.

Out now, published by 404 Ink.

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