Ariadne, I Love You

J. Ashley-Smith. Meerkat, $10.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-946154-50-7
Ashley-Smith (The Attic Tragedy) uses this eerie, ambiguous ghost story to explore the fraught relationship between artist and muse and the thin line between love and obsession. Jude, a washed-up alt-country star, agrees to a comeback show in Australia largely in hopes of reconnecting with Coreen, the inspiration behind all his songs and the wife of his former bandmate, Ben. But upon arriving, he learns that Coreen has died of a brain tumor. After an awkward dinner with Ben and his children—the eldest of whom, Margot, looks spookily like her mother and has a morbid obsession with dead animals—Jude takes Ben up on an offer to crash in the family’s refurbished train car in the woods until the day of his show. Ashley-Smith expertly braids Jude’s memories of his misspent youth crashing in Ben and Coreen’s London flat; the dinner with Ben where he learns the strange specifics of Coreen’s death and has an unnerving encounter with Margot; and his present roughing it in the train car, surrounded by memories of Coreen and a creeping sense that he’s not alone. Another voice intrudes on Jude’s boozy, jaded narration as the story goes on, describing a painful, claustrophobic existence in frantic prose poems. The result is multilayered, atmospheric, and thought-provoking. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/26/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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