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Tom Fletcher’s 2010 debut horror novel The Leaping was an eye opener in the direction of the new blood emerging on the circuit in its skilled author; it was also a breath of fresh air in regards to his approach to the genre.
At its heart lay a group introspective, an exploration of relationships, platonic and otherwise, within a circle of friends. And beneath this lay a slumbering, brutal tale that was equally raw, honest, and often times beautiful and bleak. Oh yes, and there was a bucket load of Mario Kart thrown in for good measure.
With The Thing on the Shore there’s a continuation of many of the same themes that made The Leaping so endearing, and compulsive. Yet there’s also a twist to the yarn that makes this book stand up for analysis on its own as equally well as its forebear.
Geographically, in this book, there’s a move coastward to the small town of Whitehaven. The job market here is far from ideal, and the call centre run by Outsourcing Unlimited is relied on by many as a source of employment. To say there’s something rotten here would be an understatement though, and as many of its staff might suspect, the management almost definitely doesn’t have their best interests in heart.
Arthur lives with a heavy shadow over his heart from when his mother died almost fifteen years previous. Many issues surrounding the nature of her death, in a surreal plunge from a cliff, remain unspoken between his father and himself. His father has turned to drink, and his sanity appears crumbling in the years since, and both are dependent on the call centre for their living. Around them things decay, figuratively and literally.
Luckily he has a support group of friends there for him, albeit quirky and strange, though equally endearing, they meander on as best they can, taking what challenges are thrown at them with wry humour and perseverance. But life isn’t easy – and it seems to be getting harder as the border between reality in this bleak place, and whatever else may lie beyond in the great unknown, appears to be being challenged by malign forces…