SOMETHING WICKED WAITS.
When Robin Griffiths embarks upon the restoration of a stained-glass window in a thirteenth-century church, little does she comprehend the stakes involved. The more slivers of glass she pieces together, the more she realizes things are not what they appear to be in the seemingly cozy hamlet of Bilbury. Piece by piece, sliver by sliver, the window is revealed in all its glory. But will she survive with her sanity intact, or will reawakening the image in the window prove to be her undoing?
Mosaic by Catherine McCarthy is a richly evocative tale that plunges the reader into the world of stained glass restoration. Now I know that this might not sound particularly horrific, but if you then add a creeping feeling of dread around the subject of the said stained glass and its impact on the main protagonist, Robin you will see what I mean.
The book tells the story of Robin Griffiths, an expert in the restoration of stained glass. One particular morning she receives a letter offering her the chance to bring back to life a piece of art from a dilapidated 13th Century Church. Immediately irked by both the letter and the fact that the sender believes her to be a man, we follow Robin as she takes on the task of bringing something that was considered lost back into being.
She decides to take on the project and slowly begins to rebuild the ancient artefact and return the church to its former glory. Like a modern prometheus, she begins to build the image and breathe life into the body of the stained glass figure. However, as she restores the window, bizarre and disturbing events occur.
This is the second Catherine McCarthy book that I have read in as many months, the first being her dazzling gothic novel, The Moonlit Path of Madness. However, out of the two books, this was the one that I was most anticipating. Not because it is better, but mainly due to the fact that I had heard that she was writing a cosmic horror novel, and having read one of her short story collections, Mists and Megaliths in which there is a fabulous wealth of tones and tales, there was one that I recall that I really enjoyed that was a brilliant tale of cosmic horror, and it was down to this that I knew that I would enjoy Mosaic.
One of the things that Catherine McCarthy does is quietly builds atmosphere and tension, and both these aspects are superbly done throughout the novel. Throughout the book, she subtly gives indications of the secrets of the forces that are at work and as the restoration work on the window is completed, in tandem, the dread of the situation increases.
Again, Catherine McCarthy blows me away with her intricate prose, as she first establishes the character of Robin and then starts to shed light on her traumatic background and how it has left an indelible mark on her psyche, that has ultimately left her damaged, and how she tries to relate to those around her
There are definite Lovecraftian tones here and as the book progresses to its climactic ending, we see how much these undercurrents of cosmic dread are actually not hidden in the background but are well and truly at the forefront of the tale.
Again, Catherine McCarthy has written a book of both beauty and abject horror, and I am looking forward to seeing what she will do next.
Mark aka Fantasy Book Nerd
I’m Mark, otherwise known as Fantasy Book Nerd (I don’t know if you have seen my blog, but it’s been going for a while), and this is me in my other iteration, the horror lover. This time without the normal skull mask on, well actually, I do still have the skull mask on, I mean, I can’t subject you all to my real face, there’s laws against that!
Horror was actually the first thing I got into as a kid. I got bought horror books for kids, I watched all the old Hammer Horror and Universal movies before moving onto video nasties when the video player was released, and also read a load of horror, including all the old stalwarts like James Herbert, Stephen King and others.