Few authors have the uncanny ability to tell stories with a mesmerizing authority. Ronald Malfi has that gift and uses it to show us chilling displays of morbid art. From supernatural works like Floating Staircase and The Narrows to the gritty rural dilemmas presented in Skullbelly, Malfi demands your attention. It demands that you sit still while the madness inject itself into your conscious. Like the parasites in After The Fade that slowly inject their stingers into helpless prey. It is this slow deterioration of Malfi's characters that mirrors our own descent as readers. Malfi provides instantly likeable characters that we can bond with, while bringing their demise in what amounts to as a "must see" of downfall and doom.
In After The Fade, originally published by Delirium in 2012, the author introduces us to a small tavern filled with a Cheers style cast of characters. Who wouldn't drink with old Mr. Peebles, the stereotypical drunk sailor with an eye for forgotten bar tabs? How about flirting with forty something bar keep Tori, cute as a button and tough as nails? Malfi introduces us to main character Tommy, a musician who invites his girlfriend Lauren to the tavern for the big break-up only to find that the world outside has been invaded by hordes of insect-like predators.
Malfi patiently waits for us to become attached to these characters and then brings on Armageddon quickly and efficiently. This is a valuable trait that Malfi utilizes with remarkable success. It is the bonding before bombing us. We know it's coming... but Malfi makes us watch.
After The Fade is a novella constructed around the question, "what happens after the music fades?" Is the silence an outro or really an intro? How comfortable are we with the thick silence after the fade?
Malfi presents these questions with an idea that certainly is influenced by the age old concept of taking average people and putting them in extraordinary circumstances.
The struggles of confined survivors have been presented often in horror culture, yet Malfi still has that unique ability to provide a different perspective on the plight of humanity. That is what transforms a really good horror author into a powerhouse of style and substance. After The Fade proves all of this and indeed provides an uncomfortable and chilling silence after the last sentence is read. Malfi does not disappoint.