Monday, August 23, 2010
Here at Macabre Republic, I aim to review not just full-length books but also individual short stories. In particular, I hope to call attention to some quality works of short fiction published in the small press, pieces that might have been overlooked thus far but are deserving of a wider audience. Today's spotlight story: "Silverman's Game" by Matt Moore (Damnation Books, June 2010).
In terms of structure and setting, Moore's story has all the trappings of a traditional spook tale: an adult narrator who flashes back to a traumatic incident from his childhood, when he, his older brother, and his brother's friend foolishly broke into a creepy old house. "Silverman's Game," though, quickly comes into its own when the titular villain Silverman catches the young trio in the act, locks them in his basement, and forces them to participate in a fiendish game. The boys face a crisis of survival worthy of the original Saw movie (i.e. a simple but harrowing premise, not the ridiculously elaborate traps of the gory sequels). I don't want to reveal too much here for fear of spoiling the reader's pleasure of encountering the plot firsthand, but I'll just say that the predicament involves a gun loaded with a single bullet.
Moore writes clean, unaffected prose, and does a fine job here of capturing the voice/viewpoint of a twelve-year-old boy. The suspense of the narrative builds steadily throughout (as the boys struggle to find some way to break Silverman's terrible rules), and the climax delivers a surprising twist. Overall, this is a quick, entertaining story, one that reads like the textual equivalent of a Tales from the Darkside episode. "Silverman's Game" is well worth playing, as the reader gets plenty of bang for the (little more than a) buck it costs to purchase this ebook from Damnation Books.