Name: Salt Modern Stories Number: 12
An anechoic chamber is a soundproofed room with no echo. The profound silence it produces is disturbing enough. But listen carefully and you’ll hear something worse … In this new collection of uncanny short stories, award-winning author Will Wiles finds sinister creatures and subtle nightmares in mundane modern environments and bureaucracy.
A cursed NHS file brings doom to whoever handles it. A memory-foam mattress breaks down the walls of sleep. A marketing executive for a property developer turns to the occult. And horror seeps from the most unexpected places: eBay purchases, boxes of holiday photographs, and the hidden corners of the smart TV menu.
While mostly modern in setting, this is a collection steeped in the tradition of the weird tale and the ghost story, and includes homages to the greats of the previous century: a doomed Edwardian antiquarian is drawn into a murderous plot involving a Roman mosaic, and river boatmen uncover eldritch terror in a deserted mining town.
You’ll never look at some things the same way again.
‘Wiles is basically Kafka, if Kafka had spent more time in British hotels and pubs.’ —David Baddiel
‘Will Wiles both re-invents and murders the London novel, in a spectacular act of evil, surgical intensity.’ —Warren Ellis
‘A very funny novel combining schadenfreude and belly laughs. Just don’t let Wiles flat-sit for you.’ —Independent
‘Funny, beguiling and quietly profound; a wonderfully well-crafted debut.’ —TLS
‘Dark and funny in equal measures … a debut as crisp, slick and polished as a well-cared-for wooden floor.’ —Scotland on Sunday
‘A nicely turned satire on the notion that the path to spiritual contentment lies in a pristine set of polished wooden floorboards … Wiles has an eye for beauty, but an even more impressive eye for ugliness … a novel full of impeccably stylish writing.’ —The Guardian
‘Wiles is a talent to watch.’ —The Spectator
‘The book is joy unconfined: the reader is sucked along unstoppably, but glorying too with uncomfortable recognition. Fabulous in every sense.’ —Spectator
‘Wiles takes us deep into a subtly altered London at the mercy of the malign forces of gentrification, and seemingly in the hands of a mysterious tech maven whose new app can track every user at all times…an eerie and sometimes pretty sharp satire on the more sinister commodifications of modern life.’ —Daily Mail
‘Plume’s cast of semi-sinister clowns aren’t the most sympathetic, but it’s the suffocating, Ballardian sense of place and mental and physical deterioration that Wiles, a design and architecture writer when not a novelist, does so horribly well. Plume is about a man trapped in a prison of his own making who endlessly gets nowhere at all.’ —Financial Times