by Stephen Volk
Published by: Gray Friar Press, 2009.
No Vardoger isn’t a romantic fishing village at the head of some wild Norwegian fjord, it is Norwegian word but I would suggest you refrain from looking it up until after you have finished Stephen Volk’s powerful novella.
When Sean and Alison manage to save up enough special offer vouchers for a weekend at the upmarket Shewstone Hotel, it seems like the perfect opportunity to relax and luxuriate in each others company for a while, even if the surroundings are a bit above their normal standard.
On arrival, however, things start to go wrong right from the start. It appears the hotel is double booked and there is no reference to the couples booking. It then transpires that Sean Merritt actually had a room booked for the previous weekend and had stayed in the hotel, paying by credit card, Sean’s credit card. A series of bizarre encounters with staff who recognise Sean leads to even more confusion and then things take a much darker turn when Alison goes missing. It soon becomes clear that there is more at stake here than simple identity fraud.
And so Stephen Volk leads us down a twisting, dark, pathway as the plot spirals into something quite unexpected and very powerful. It’s a short tale but little time is wasted in developing the paranoia, schizophrenia and genuine sense of helplessness that Sean feels, feelings that the readers share and empathise with.
Stephen Volk is probably best known for his screenplay work for television and movies (Afterlife, Ghostwatch, Gothic etc) but clearly he is also a very talented and imaginative fiction writer. His writing has a great British quality that gives him an interesting and unusual voice. I thoroughly enjoyed Vardoger.
Rating 4 out of 5