David Rix's Feather was published by Eibonvale Press in October 2011.
Click here to visit David Rix's website.
Here's a description of Feather:
Who is Feather?
The wandering girl – the running girl. Fragmentary, oblique, a damaged product of innocence lost, on the run from a deprived childhood and eccentric domineering father. Unable to engage emotionally with all the lives she passes through, hurt, but always hoping, always moving on.
In these nine stories and novellas, David Rix weaves an enigmatic web of fictions, at the shifting intersections of Slipstream, Horror and Science Fiction. Feather lurks at the edges of some of these tales and erupts from the centre of others, but her presence and personality haunt them all, like some eerie melody played on an underwater violin.
Perhaps Feather is a symbol of something fundamentally human, an avatar for the collision of our common humanity with the insanely alien environment of the modern world. But don't expect answers. Ultimately, Feather is also the muse of David Rix himself, and in sharing her with him, you will come to savour the very act of questioning, and discover that strange world where mystery and innocence meet what we see as normal.
And here's the review:
A REVIEW OF DAVID RIX'S FEATHER
David Rix's Feather is an excellent collection of speculative fiction stories, which are a bit difficult to classify, because they range from subtle fantasy to horror and contain traces of magical realism and mysticism. Some readers will probably call these stories unclassifiable.
The stories are:
- Forward: The Tiny Window on River Street
- Yellow Eyes
- The Angels
- Touch Wood
- The Magpies
- The Book of Tides
- To Call the Sea
- The Whispering Girl
- Endword: The Sea Train
Here's a bit of information the stories, but not too much information (these notes contain mostly observations and my feelings about the stories and their atmosphere). I'll only mention a couple of things, because I try to avoid spoilers.
Forward: The Tiny Window on River Street
- An interesting foreword and introduction to this collection.
- Feather is a sixteen/seventeen years old girl, who has an abusive father.
- Feather's father believes in the Measuring Man who will be harmful for them.
- Feather doesn't understand why she and her father have to hide in the woods.
- Feather's life with his father is lonely.
- Although Feather has been treated badly, she's a survivor.
- James "Jimmy" Ward meets a cold and dirty girl on the beach and takes her to his home.
- The girl tells Jimmy that she's Feather.
- Jimmy is a Ghost Writer.
- Jimmy has a World Cage and he keeps his stories inside it.
- The stories Jimmy has stored inside the World Cage are horrible.
- Richard Jarvis, Mark and Matherson spend time at The Yellow King, which is a cocktail bar.
- They meet Feather and Zeljka in the bar.
- They talk about different things etc.
- Touch Wood is an interesting story.
- Elizabeth Ise uses her computer and meets Feather online.
- Elizabeth is a composer and also a bit of a mathematician.
- There are magpies near Elizabeth's house and she watches them.
- She thinks that there's a connection between his dead brother and a magpie.
- Feather is staying with Richard Jarvis and uses his computer.
- Feather's online presence is almost magical in this story, because she meets Elizabeth online.
The Book of Tides:
- A man takes a girl from the beach to his house. The girl says that she's Feather.
- The man is a writer. He tells stories of the tides from tidal debris, because every tide has a story to tell.
- The Book of Tides is definitely one of the finest stories in this collection.
To Call the Sea:
- Kay lives in Jade Halls (Brockden Centre, at the residence halls of Archers Collec of Performing Arts).
- Kay knows Feather, Cal and Bel.
- Elizabeth Ise can also be found at Brockden Centre with her Celtic harp.
- I liked this story, because it was interesting and the atmosphere was brilliant.
The Whispering Girl:
- The author shows his love for Slovenia in this fascinating short story.
- In this short story Tallis spends time in Ljubljana.
- The descriptions of the events and the places are beautiful. (I loved this story.)
Endword: The Sea Train:
- A nice and fitting endword to a fine collection.
Feather is an interesting character, because she appears to have different sides to her. She's a free, innocent, wild and even seductive young girl/woman, who's always on the move and lingers in certain places for a while before moving on. She's almost like a force of nature and can't be stopped, but she also observes things. I think it's best to say that she is many things, because there are no easy ways to describe her haunting presence.
Feather affects each person differently. She's like a magical person who can change or affect people's lives in small or big ways. Although she isn't always playing a leading role in the story, she has an important part in each story. Her presence affects the lives of the characters in a certain way and haunts them.
When I read this collection I thought to myself that David Rix's writing style reminds me a bit of Clive Barker. He has the same kind of a sense of style and depth as Barker, and he's capable of shocking his readers with psychologically and violently horrifying scenes, which reveal the almost animalistic behaviour of human beings (he isn't as explicit as Barker, but he can shock his readers when he wants to and he does it skillfully). The dreamlike and a bit weird atmosphere also reminds me a bit of Clive Barker. There's also a touch of Laird Barron's sense of style in his stories.
Yellow Eyes is probably the most shocking story, because it shows how Feather's father abuses her. The way Feather's father treats her daughter is quite brutal and it demonstrates what some people are capable of doing. I think it's good that David Rix doesn't try sugarcoat the abuse, because it's a nasty thing and there's nothing good or nice about it. The author shows how things really are and isn't afraid to write about difficult things.
There are several elements in David Rix's stories. If you read the stories carefully, you'll notice how fantastically the author combines different elements from ghost stories and everyday life to surrealism and grittiness. I think that David Rix has been very successful in combining these elements (these stories are addictive and it's impossible to stop reading them). These stories aren't exactly weird fiction, but they aren't far from it – they're slightly weird and some stories are even weirder than others (if you compare Yellow Eyes to The Magpies, you'll notice how different they are). I think that the readers of Feather will notice that in these stories everyday things can be unfamiliar while strange things are surprisingly familiar and hauntingly intriguing.
David Rix writes touchingly about feelings of loneliness and isolation. His descriptions are almost beautifully poetic, but also quite brutal, nasty and unsettling. Writing about loneliness and isolation is difficult, but somehow he manages to turn all the necessary feelings into words so that his readers are able to understand what the characters feel (he does this amazingly well).
David Rix also has an uncanny sense of grotesqueness, which manifests itself in fascinating and unexpected ways. I have always loved grotesque and unsettling stories, so I was thrilled when I noticed that the author seems to be able to create an unsettling atmosphere with just a few paragraphs and carefully chosen words. This is one of the reasons why it's possible that some readers may compare him to old masters like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood and M. R. James.
I think that David Rix's own personal experiences about Slovenia have influenced his writing style quite a lot. There's an intriguing sense of melancholy in these stories which is probably the result of the time spent in Slovenia and secluded places. I think it wouldn't have been possible to write these stories without personal experience about isolation and lonely life. I was impressed and surprised by David Rix's writing skills and by what he knows about life and its nuances.
What I like most about these stories is that they're intelligent and well written stories for adult readers. In my opinion it's possible to read these stories in two ways: 1) you can either enjoy the stories as they are and think about the events afterwards or 2) you can analyze the stories deeply while reading them, because there are several layers to each story. No matter which way you decide to read them, I'm sure that you'll enjoy them, because they're brilliant stories.
I think I've praised David Rix a bit too much in this review, but it's difficult not to praise him, because he's a talented and excellent author. I hope that other readers find his stories as exciting and interesting as I did.
I can highly recommend David Rix's Feather to readers who want to read something different. These stories are rewarding and they offer lots of enjoyment for fans of different kind of speculative fiction. If you're looking for something weird and challenging to read, don't look any further, because Feather will offer you everything you're looking for – give it a chance and you're hooked.