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Book Review

Book Cover

An Emporium of Automata


Author: D P Watt
Eibonvale Press
RRP: £9.99, US $12.99
ISBN: 978 1 908125 18 7
Available 01 March 2013

One of the things that I most liked about the band Snow Patrol, was their ability to write love songs without resorting to even using the word ’love’. Likewise D. P Watt is able to imply the macabre underbelly of human existence without even naming the horror, he writes stories of tantalising tease, with a skill that never has to stoop to spoon feeding his audience.

The Emporium of Automata is a book of short stories, written by D. P Watt. There are twenty-one stories split into three sections: Phantasmagorical Instruments, Genealogical Devices and Ex Nihilo.

The first section is loosely bound together thematically as unsettling stories of dread and horror. The second section holds a collection where the majority of the stories are loosely bound together, the whole creating an unsettling sensation, without ever explicitly revealing what they are about and the last section has a number of stories set in Russia, before closing with a couple of enigmatic pieces.

Whilst there are many writers of strange and weird fiction, and even more writing in the horror genre, it takes a rare talent to write stories which remain disquieting without having to resort to well worked tropes. Watt is able to take the most mundane of things and with skill imbue it with the possibilities of horror, whether it is faeces wrapped in paper, an unexpected call from an old school friend, a trip to the seaside or the seemingly mundane story of a thief.

Watt eschews the modern lazy habit of explicitly telling you everything, if you venture within the confines of this book you better make sure you bring your imagination with you, as Watt will play on your fear with a virtuoso’s skill, building up layer upon layer of weirdness, in the end he does not need to explicitly say what the horror is as he has already led the reader to plumb the depths of their own fears to provide reason.

Ultimately, this is a superb collection which showcases both Watt’s imagination and his wonderful skill with language which succeeds in feeling both modern, whilst harkening back to some of the early greats of speculative fiction.


Charles Packer

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