Lord Huw And The Romance Of Stone
by Dave Hutchinson
Published by Dave Hutchinson, 2012
Despite this site’s focus on all things dark and horrific, that’s not all I read. I am and always have been a fan of SF, Fantasy, Crime and Historical fiction but to date I have limited my reviews here to horror and dark Fiction books. That will remain the main focus of this blog but I thought it might be interesting to add some variety to spice things up so I intend to post reviews of things I have read outwith the horror genre.
One of my favourite SF books of recent years was Dave Hutchinson’s Push, it was intelligent, literate and a bloody fine read (I reviewed it for the BFS but can’t find a link to the review at the moment, trust me it was great, the book that is not the review, although that was probably pretty good as well!). So I was intrigued to see this short ebook from Dave on Amazon, intrigued because it seems to mark a new direction in his writing and it’s one that I thoroughly approve of.
This is a short book by anyone’s standard, Amazon lists it as equivalent to 16 pages so it’s more of a chapbook than a novella but those 16 pages held me spellbound so don’t let the diminished size put you off. Lord Huw is a Knight Defender of the Western Marches in this fantasy story as recounted by Lineas the Scribe. We learn how Lord Huw lived a harsh existence, issuing harsh justice on the people of the Western marches, described as an “awful howling wildernesses of crags, fells, lochs and creeks” far from the King’s home in the South where “orchards and citrus groves scent the warm air”. Lord Huw resides in Castle Aran, a structure “entirely without architectural merit” a place in keeping with the rough landscape and life he leads. Soon, however his neighbour Lord Compaigne builds a castle for himself, Castle Carbury, “the most wondrous castle in the whole kingdom”.
And so we hear of Lord Huw’s increasing obsession with Carbury and the desperate lengths he goes to make it his own. This wonderful and magical story is narrated by the marvellously sardonic Lineas who has borne “haemorrhoids, a persistent cough and a near unbearable cramp in my writing hand” whilst compiling the folk tales of the people of the land. But this tale is more than a simple fairy tale, the final section of the book reveals that this is a much more important tale and a metaphor for unrequited love.
With an intriguing medieval fantasy settings, spiced with magic, wonderful characters, even some horror, this story really hit the mark. The tone of the narrator was just right and the revelatory ending raises the whole thing to another level. Is it too short? Yes, but not in relation to value for money (it’s only a £1!), only because I want to spend more time in this land. Here’s hoping Dave Hutchinson revisits this world soon but in the meantime spend your pocket money on a fine story by an excellent storyteller.
Rating 4.5 out of 5