Silent Voices continues on from Gary McMahon’s brutalist urban-supernatural trilogy-opener The Concrete Grove, keeping steady pace with the shocking fluidity of that story. Again it’s the Needle, a behemoth abandoned residential tower block, that forms a geographical and paranormal centre point to the story which has grown around it. However, the characters we encounter in this book have a deeper and more involved history with the Concrete Grove than those in the preceding tranche of this tale, and it would seem that it has the most furtive of agendas with them.
An estranged trio of childhood friends Simon, Brendan and Martin – not in touch for some twenty-odd years – find themselves experiencing a disturbing series of events that echo through time. They’re reminded of a weekend in their youth when their innocence was stripped from them by some malevolent supernatural entity, their memories gone too, as the dark forces of the Grove conquered them.
Simon, the wealthy and, from outside appearances, most successful of the three returns home from London to the place he had run so quickly away from, only to find bitter reminders of a different time. His friend Brendan, quite reluctant to form an acquaintance with him again, has stayed near the Grove all of his life. He works a relatively unrewarding job as security guard near to the Needle itself, his mental and physical health racked by his environs and what they’ve come to mean to him. Marty himself is in an altogether darker place.
A succession of ominous, slowly unravelling to become threatening, occurrences with a definite supernaturally macabre note force the three back into facing what it was exactly that happened to them those decades ago. And, in the process, unravel more of the mystery puzzle of what exactly is going on with the Grove itself.
Silent Voices is a fast paced read, that’s well written and enjoyable. I found its plot as it related to the wider grove mythos to be highly organic in nature, and at points the horrors which unwound upon different characters within the story emanated more than just a mild tint of bizarro-fiction. Nonetheless, there’s substance in here to keep the horror fan curious, and have them turning those pages to find out more.
McMahon’s is a bleak urban world that’s painted most definitely with darker colours upon a blighted canvas, and Silent Voices makes for an interesting read indeed for the horror fiction fan looking for something of a curious, different flavour to other writings out there.
With the concluding book in the trilogy to be released soon, there’s been more than enough meat in the books so far to pique your interest and get you turning pages. McMahon has you relate to his characters, to empathise, and sympathise or condone, without becoming patronising or preachy, and the construct he’s building here with this trilogy, does have the potential to become a more prominent landmark on the horror horizon.