Paul Meloy's The Night Clock was published by Solaris Books in November 2015.
Information about Paul Meloy:
Paul Meloy has published most of his stories in The Third Alternative and Black Static, plus Interzone, Nemonymous and anthologies such as The British Invasion and Paper Cities. His story 'Black Static' won the British Fantasy Award. He works as a psychiatric nurse in Cambridge.
Click here to visit the author's Wikipedia page.
Information about The Night Clock:
Phil Trevena's patients are dying and he needs answers. One of the disturbed men in his care tells him that he needs to find Daniel, that Daniel will be able to explain what is happening. But who is Daniel? Daniel was lost once, broken by the same force that has turned its hatred on Trevena. His destiny is greater than he could ever imagine.
Drawn together, Trevena and Daniel embark on an extraordinary journey of discovery, encountering The Firmament Surgeons in the Dark Time - the flux above our reality. Whoever controls Dark Time controls the minds of humanity. The Firmament Surgeons, aware of the approach of limitless hostility and darkness, are gathered to bring an end to the war with the Autoscopes, before they tear our reality apart...
The Night Clock is Paul Meloy's extraordinarily rich debut novel, introducing us to a world just beyond our own, shattering preconceptions about creativity and mental illness, and presenting us with a novel like no other.
A REVIEW OF PAUL MELOY'S THE NIGHT CLOCK
Paul Meloy's debut novel, The Night Clock, is a compelling and original blend of dark fantasy, science fiction and horror elements. It takes place in the same world as "Dogs with Their Eyes Shut", which was published in 2013. It's a richly written and multi-layered novel for readers who want to immerse themselves into a complex and gradually unfolding story that rewards its readers with beautiful prose and intriguing happenings.
I've been aware of Paul Meloy for a couple of years, but I haven't had an opportunity read anything by him until now. I'm glad I could review The Night Clock, because it's an impressive and well written debut novel (I was very impressed by it). It splendidly showcases the author's abilities to write original speculative fiction for adults, because it's a fascinating combination of different elements that together form an enjoyable story.
The Night Clock can be categorised as dark fantasy fiction, because the author combines fantasy, horror and slipstream elements in a successful way. Depending on the reader, it's also possible to categorise this novel as horror fiction, because the boundaries of horror fiction have been stretched quite a lot during the recent years and certain dark fantasy novels can be counted as horror fiction.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
The Night Clock is a fascinating and imaginative story about a psychiatric nurse, Phil Trevena, who finds himself in the middle of strange and threatening happenings. He tries to make sense of what's going on, because his psychiatric patients are dying. He hears from one of his disturbed patients that he must find a man called Daniel, because Daniel is the only person who can explain everything. When Trevena meets Daniel, he finds out that a dark elemental force is behind everything...
This is the beginning of a chain of events that leads Trevena and Daniel on a journey to save our reality.
The multi-layered and phantasmagorical story is told through different characters. The narrative shifts fluently from character to character, but the main characters are Phil Trevena and Daniel. It was interesting to read about both of the main characters and their lives, because characterisation is excellent.
Phil Trevena is a fascinating character, because he's a psychiatric nurse who takes care of mentally ill people. He gets into trouble at work when his patients start to die mysteriously. He begins to wonder what's going on and tries to find answers. His puzzlement about the happenings is handled well, because he slowly finds out what's happening around him and why his patients have died.
Daniel is a Firmament Surgeon and a hypnopomp who can control Dark Time. He has an ability to alter time. He fights against the Autoscopes who are Firmament Surgeons that have been corrupted by a dark force - the devil-in-dreams - that wants to bring an age of despair. The author writes fascinatingly about Daniel's past and the time he spent at the mental hospital.
I also enjoyed reading about the secondary characters, because they were fully fleshed characters with lives and feelings of their own. For example, the author explored Gollick's life in an excellent way and told what happened to him and his mother. It was also interesting to read about Chloe and how important a character she was, because she was part of the Night Clock.
The concept of the mysterious Night Clock is handled perfectly, because the author reveals bits and pieces about it as the story begins to unfold. I won't write what kind of a clock it is, because I might end up writing too many spoilers, but I think it's safe to mention that certain people are very important to its existence and functioning.
This novel contains intriguing sexual elements, because the author writes about the protagonist's sexual feelings towards the student nurse, Zoë. He knows that his feelings are inapproriate, but he can't help them and tries to hide his arousal. The author also writes well about the protagonist's dark dream that has a sexual nature to it. These sexual elements fit the dark story perfectly.
I've noticed that several novels have been written about mental illness and madness over the years, but this kind of creative and insightful novels are rare. Paul Meloy's approach to mental illness and madness feels fresh and creative. I honestly don't recall reading anything like this ever before, because the author ignores the conventional clichés associated with mental illness stories and boldly writes his own kind of fiction that stays true to medical facts, but is original and inventive. His approach to mental illness has a distinct edge of poetic artistry that sets him apart from other authors.
Paul Meloy writes fluently about mental illness and what's related to it. His descriptions of the the patients' symptoms, madness and behaviour are excellent and stunningly effective. I think that his personal experiences as a psychiatric nurse have affected his writing style, because he has gained lots of insight into mental illness and is aware of how patients behave in different conditions and under stress.
Paul Meloy writes well about Trevena's patients and how they're being looked after by nurses. I have to mention that it was interesting and unsettling for me to read about Les and his symptoms, because he had schizophrenia. He had animals, but when his illness worsened, he killed all of his animals, because he thought that they'd be better off dead if he couldn't look after them. In my opinion, his condition and symptoms were handled surprisingly well.
The author seems to have an excellent imagination, because he has come up with a story that is original and fresh. There's an exciting fractured-reality quality to his story that is reminiscent of slipstream stories. This is one of the reasons why I was deeply impressed by this novel.
Paul Meloy writes beautiful, descriptive and nuanced prose. He has his own unique voice and he uses it in a bold way. There's something in his sentences and expressions that reminds me a bit of Nina Allan, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Thompson.
The author has a good sense of humour, and he has an ability to add humorous elements to his story without making the happenings feel fluffy or trivial. His humour is wonderfully sharp and some of his comments about people and happenings are nuanced and observant. (I was pleasantly surprised to find humour in this novel, because this kind of novels seldom have any kind of humorous elements.)
I was impressed by the author's way of writing about dark fantasy and horror elements, because his writing style is fascinatingly dark. He wrote ominously about the strange creatures that attacked the characters and easily created a threatening atmosphere. His creatures were original and had a nightmarish quality to them.
I was surprised to find out that the author wrote about talking dogs and tigers, because I didn't expect to read about talking animals. I think it's good that he wrote about them, because by writing about them, he added a bit of fairy-tale-like lightness to his dark story.
I look forward to reading more stories and novels by Paul Meloy, because he seems to be a talented author who can write original and engaging stories that stimulate the reader's imagination. I intend to take a look at his previous stories as soon as possible.
I think it's fair to say that we need more novels like The Night Clock that expand the boundaries of speculative fiction into new directions and excite our imagination, because there are too many novels that offer little or no food at all for thoughts. I'm personally a big fan of this kind of fiction, because it's rewarding to read well written novels that boldly differ from what's become the norm for speculative fiction.
The Night Clock is an excellent novel for adult readers. It deserves to be read thoughtfully, because it contains many different elements and has layers of depth. It has been written for intelligent adults who want to read a complex and gradually opening story.
Paul Meloy's The Night Clock is not to be missed by fans of quality speculative fiction, because it's one of the most intriguing speculative fiction novels of the year. If you're fascinated by dark happenings and love the darker and stranger side of speculative fiction, you should take a look at this beautifully written novel, because it's genuinely worth reading.