A Melancholy Event by Dan Glaister is a spectacularly spook novella about one girls obsession with the past. Stephanie is a young girl growing up in a home with her mother and brother. Her father left some time ago but her hurt at being abandoned is still fresh. Ignored by her sibling who just seems to have his nose in a book all day and her mother who seems to only have any time for her brother, Stephanie often finds herself spending time on her own. Whilst in the attic one day she comes across a set of papers that document a duel in 1807. From that moment on the words seems to take possession of her and it becomes her mission to recreate those events. The question is how far will she go?
This book was so eerie to read and at times I felt on edge as what Dan Glaister does is cradle us in this narrative of uncertainty. What is real and what is imagination? The lines of reality become blurred. It was an absolute joy to read this as I did, late at night in a the unsettling silence of my room. My favourite parts were where Stephanie was alone and we were just left with her unnerving thoughts.
There were moments in this book that put me in mind of Twin Peaks mixed with a Shane Meadows sort of cinematic vibe. I think if you ever read a bit of Shirley Jackson or Robert Aickeman you’ll absolutely love this. I would also recommend this to fans of such Small Hands by Andres Barba or See What I have done by Sarah Schmidt.