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I believe this is the third book of Cate Gardner's that I've read. She has a strong, unique voice that is difficult for me to describe. This book is very surreal but affecting in it's examination of grief and the power it can have.
Cate Gardner writes of the liminal spaces which populate the world. In the Bureau of Them grief is the key that unlocks these spaces, tearing the veil between the dead and the living. The prose is beautifully sparse, the imaginary is powerfully complex and the ending is a killer.
There is one thing the the British do very well, and that is the understated yet beautiful and moving ghost story. Cate Gardener's latest novella from Spectral Press continues this tradition with great success.
When Kate sees what she thinks is the ghost of her recently departed boyfriend in the window of a deserted office block, she is compelled to find a way to be reunited with him, but when he finds that the dead don't want anything to do with living she is thrown into an emotional turmoil. One that brings her to the attention of the monster Yarker Ryland.
The Bureau of Them like a lot of Gardener's work is a blend of deeply charged emotional musings , and almost etherial like descriptive passages that imbue the narrative with wonderful dreamlike quality. This is a deeply emotional book, the torment and turmoil of anguish that Kate goes through as she moves from being a grieving widow to a woman who will do anything to be with the love of her life is powerful narrative that will have you fully invested in her plight. Your emotions will mirror those of Kate's such is the strength of Kate's narrative. This is also helped by the dream like feel of the novella, this fully compliments the narrative and adds a lot of power to Kate's plight.
Gardner has also created a wonderful antagonist with Yarker Ryland, he is almost painted as a victorian pantomime villain, but Gardener skilfully keeps him firmly behind the line of menacing monster. Cruel, vicious and totally without any sense of remorse he is a chilling creation, a perfect counterfoil to Kate's role as the emotional heroine.
The Bureau of Them is book about mourning and coming to terms with loss, it will tug at your emotional core, with ever straying into schmaltzy territory. A modern ghost story that continues the great tradition of well written spooky stories that this country has such a great history of doing well. Gardener is a great writer and this novella is a perfect example of her huge talent.
The story has believable characters with missions they pursue throughout. I loved the construction of the sentences to bring out the atmosphere and draw you into the plight the antagonist finds herself in. I couldn't put it down. Cate has captured spookiness in a compact story. A true wordsmith.
Have you ever read something so exquisitely written, so beautiful and cruel that it left you staggering, giddy with the darkness of its concept and delivery? I've just read Cate Gardner's novella, The Bureau of Them in one straight sitting and am reeling with both fear and awe at such skilled storytelling.
I've only read a couple of Cate's pieces before, and they both blew me away (but we're talking Black Static here so you *know* they'll be sublime before you even start) however, The Bureau of Them is something else. Easily the best horror, the best fiction in any genre I've read this year. Highly recommended.