Author Steven Savile was born in Newcastle, England in 1969. In 1997, he moved to Stockholm, Sweden and launched a prolific writing career. Savile has authored television and video game tie-in novels and stories in series titles like Warhammer, Stargate SG-1, Torchwood, Doctor Who and Stellaris. With over ten full-length novels and a number of short story collections and novellas, it was just a matter of time before I would stumble upon one. My first experience with the author is his horror novella Shiftling. It was originally published in 2013 by Dark Fuse.
Shifting, set in the 1980s, blends coming of age storytelling with a small town mystery. Like Brian Keene's Ghoul and Ronald Malfi's December Park, Savile crafts his story around a select group of kids who find their lives disrupted by evil. The story has the required elements of good, traditional horror fiction - a sinister house, an underground lair and a carnival. Savile could easily conjure an elementary ghoul or goblin to prey on these young characters, instead his mature talents as a creator goes well beyond that.
This compelling narrative uses two time frames to present the events, one in 1985 and another present day. It is this retroactive sequence of events that allows readers to interpret the past through the characters' hazy recollection and misguided memories. The central horror concept is an old house and a series of underground tunnels where the terror resides.
While there are certain horrific scenes throughout Shifting, it is the coming of age factor and its shedding of innocence that headlines this thought provoking tale. Kudos to Savile for a fantastic effort and one that clearly shows innovative ideas are still on the loose.
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