The Silver Voices is a sewn hardcover book of 159 pages with dust-jacket, silk ribbon, endpapers and a full-colour frontispiece. Edition limited to strictly 170 copies.
Transylvania: the country beyond the forest and land of the seven fortress towns. In The Silver Voices we encounter the previously unknown eighth town: Sternbergstadt. Now known as Steaua de Munte, it’s one of those places where past and present continually meet, with no-one being entirely sure which has the upper hand. In Steaua de Munte history can never be said to be dead and buried; it plays too many tricks on the present and future for that.
Steaua de Munte’s Old Town, enclosed by its walls but not limited by them, still dreams the centuries away beneath its two hills, one surmounted by a castle, the other covered by a cemetery. The baroque New Town, the fin de siècle Parisville district, and the Modernist quarter with its boulevards and apartment blocks, are being restored and are as yet little known outside Romania - and even then hardly at all.
Steaua de Munte plays its part in the dark and tangled history of one of Europe’s most exciting countries. Borders and boundaries change; governments and leaders come and go, names change and change again. The city and its inhabitants do what they’ve always done best: live for the day. In any case reality will continually intrude; but nobody really knows exactly how much. Or cares, for that matter. Unlike Sibiu and Sighisoara – to which any possible resemblances are purely coincidental – Steaua de Munte currently receives few visitors. But those who do find their way there are never quite the same again – even if they eventually leave again.
John Howard's stellar debut collection eludes all sorts of categorizations. Here you will find the ghostly without the ghosts, the supernatural without that old rust, the traveller and the Exile, the deaths and the lives of foreign countries and the numinous in all its secret, hidden splendor. A bit like Herta Müller doing a Walter de la Mare impersonation, with H.G. Wells, Robert Aickman, Olivia Manning and Julien Gracq standing by, waiting silently for the inhuman - or maybe all too human - whispers of silver voices.
John Howard was born in London. His books include The Defeat of Grief, The Lustre of Time, The Silver Voices, Written by Daylight, Cities and Thrones and Powers, and Buried Shadows. Secret Europe and Inner Europe are joint collections written with Mark Valentine. Howard’s essays on fantastic fiction and its classic authors have appeared in Wormwood and other places, and many are gathered in Touchstones: Essays on the Fantastic.