Simon Avery's The Teardrop Method was published by TTA Press in September 2017.

Information about Simon Avery:

Born in 1971, Simon Avery lives and works in Birmingham.

Over the last twenty-two years he has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies including Black Static, Crimewave, The Best British Mysteries IV, Beneath the Ground, Birmingham Noir, Terror Tales of Yorkshire and Something Remains.

He has been nominated for the Crime Writers Association Dagger award and the British Fantasy Award.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about The Teardrop Method:

Krisztina heard the song and she followed it across the city...

Winter in Budapest. In the midst of a terrible personal tragedy, singer/songwriter Krisztina Ligetti discovers she can hear songs of mortality. She spends her days following these songs until they lead her to people at the precipice of death. From the fading bars of their final breath, Krisztina takes the story of their lives and turns them into music.

When Krisztina is reunited with her father, a reclusive 60s pop star, she believes that she has finally found a way out of the darkness, but then she begins to receive news clippings detailing each of the deaths she has been witness to. A man in a porcelain mask who seems to be everywhere she looks and a faded writer who shares Krisztina's gift seem to know her, know that the past has a hold on them all, and that it won't stop until someone has paid the price.

A REVIEW OF SIMON AVERY'S THE TEARDROP METHOD

Simon Avery's The Teardrop Method is the fourth novella in the TTA Novellas series. The previous novellas in this series are Eyepennies by Mike O'Driscoll, Spin by Nina Allan and Cold Turkey by Carole Johnston. This novella maintains the high quality established by its predecessors, because it's just as fascinating and original as them.

I'm glad I had an opportunity to read The Teardrop Method, because I haven't read many stories by the author (my first introduction to Simon Avery's fiction was his excellent short story "Charmed Life" in the anthology Something Remains: Joel Lane and Friends). I was deeply impressed by this novella, because it's a haunting and moving story with a touch of melancholy and sadness.

It's a bit difficult to classify The Teardrop Method due to its contents, but it can best be classified as literary speculative fiction. To be more specific, literary horror fiction with an emphasis on quiet horror comes to my mind when I think about the contents of the story.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

- Krisztina has a gift of hearing songs of mortality. Her gift leads her to people at the precipice of death.

- Krisztina hears a song and follows it across the wintry landscape of Budapest. She takes a cab and directs the driver from one street to another. When she gets closer to the source of the song, the notes of the song call out to her. She enters a coffee house and decides to wait for the source of the song to arrive. Soon she sees a man standing still in the snow. The man is wearing an expressionless porcelain mask. Krisztina has seen him several times in the past few months. Soon the man is gone and when Krisztina turns, the song and its host - József - has arrived in the coffee house.

- József takes Krisztina to his place. Krisztina wants to know József's song, she yearns to hear what it is of his life that suggests music, a lyric, verses and chorus. Soon Krisztina and József have sex and Krisztina wonders how much longer she has to wait for the song to come to her, because the song is loud and clear, but there's no sign of József's impending mortality. József asks Krisztina to stay with him for the night and sleep beside him. She agrees to his request. When she wakes up, she notices József on the wall of the balcony and sees him fall. When József falls, Krisztina hears his song in her head...

This is the beginning of a beautifully written story, which tells of Krisztina's life and what happens to her when she finds out that there's another person who shares her gift.

The characterisation works well and is achingly realistic. Krisztina is a fascinating protagonist, because she is an artist who has an ability to hear songs of mortality. She can see the persons' lives in their songs. When she hears the songs, she records them in her studio and turns them into music. She's preparing to release a new album based on the songs she has heard.

Krisztina's relationship with Alice is described well. The author fluently writes about how they became lovers and tells of the time they spent together before Alice's death. There's genuine human emotion in his way of writing about Krisztina and Alice. When you read about them, you'll be able to feel how much they loved and cared for each other. The author explores Krisztina's feelings in a realistic way and tells how she copes after losing Alice, because Alice's death was a devastating personal tragedy to her.

The author writes excellently about Krisztina's father, John Merriwether, his life and his sickness. John Merriwether is a reclusive artist who has recently recorded a new album, The Bleed, which is utterly different from his early albums. The songs on the album are dark and unsettling.

It was captivating to read about the fading author, Rebeka Stróbl, because she shares Krisztina's gift. Her gift is, however, slightly different, because she has to kill people in order to have their stories. She can hear people's stories, but can't have them until she kills them. The author writes about her in a chilling way.

This novella has a distinct European milieu that acts a beautiful backdrop to the bleak happenings. The author paints a beautiful picture of Budapest and its locales with his words and leads readers into a world where the supernatural and the mundane intertwine with each other.

Simon Avery's beautiful prose is one of the main reasons why this novella is excellent. I like the author's way of combining and writing about several elements - love, loss, loneliness, supernatural, music and art - because everything about the story feels effortless and intriguing. Elements related to music business are handled exceptionally well.

This novella includes a bonus linked short story 'Going Back to the World', which was originally published in Black Static issue #44. This short story features Dave Cook (he's a journalist who reviews Krisztina's records and interviews her father for Wire magazine) and tells of his life and death.

I can honestly say that Simon Avery's The Teardrop Method is one of the finest and most fascinating novellas I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I highly recommend this novella to speculative fiction readers, because it's a beautiful and subtly complex exploration of death, love, loss and how to recover from a tragedy. Its darkly beautiful atmosphere and delicate story will captivate everyone who appreciates quiet horror.

Highly recommended!

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