It's going to be difficult to write comments about The Anniversary, the newly released novella from talented indie writer Jonathan Hill, without giving the plot away so I shall be cautious.
Fans of Jonathan Hill's writing have known for some time that he was working on a new book which was going to be in a different genre to anything he'd written before.
Well, this is true.
The Anniversary is a psychological thriller with the emphasis on the psychological.
It's the first anniversary of the death of the narrator's partner and shortly after starting a new job he's at the office Christmas party. The co-workers are a singularly unpleasant bunch vying with each other to be the most obnoxious. It's the office party from hell really but the outcome is that, Janet, one of the narrator's co-workers, offers to spend Christmas Day with him. The only downside to this generous offer is that Janet was accused of murdering her husband!
The action takes places over the course of a few hours but the intricate timing moves in and out of the past and the present filling out the back story and persistently raising questions in the reader's mind.
This non-linear time scheme is the great strength of the novella allowing the reader to delve into the mind of the narrator. It creates complexity and gives the story a much bigger context than the simple tale it supports. It creates confusion and leads the reader into the narrator's nightmare world, whether real or imagined is difficult to say.
There are many details in the setting and the descriptive writing that place The Anniversary firmly in the Christmas season but this is about as far from "peace and goodwill to all" as you can get. The Anniversary has echoes of a couple of the writer's more macabre short stories and, once again, he's demonstrated an ability to write beautifully with economical and precise language that creates powerful visual images.
The Anniversary doesn't take long to read but the novella lingers on with an uneasy sense of having missed something. As one question is answered another forms. Is this story the exploration of a mental breakdown or of a clever criminal mind? Certainly a book to read again, and probably again, and one that I can recommend most highly.
You can get details of this and Jonathan Hill's other books on his Amazon Author Page or his Website.
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