The Night Clock by Paul Meloy book review

Paul Meloy’s The Night Clock is as enigmatic as you can get

Acclaimed short story writer Paul Meloy’s debut novel is a tricky one to describe, but we’re going to do our best. If you’d like to have a simple answer to whether or not you should read it, then “yes, definitely.”

The Night Clock is a simmering stew of nightmare fuel and tremendous fantasy. It’s fizzing with ideas, it’s atmospheric, it’s very scary and it’s surprisingly heartfelt.

Phil Trevena is a divorced dad working in mental healthcare whose patients all die on the same day. He quickly realises that these deaths are linked to a conflict somewhere between reality and another world. It’s violent, it’s deadly and it may kill us all.

Meloy plunges the reader into a vision of our world that is not remotely flattering. The opening chapters and their depiction of a run-down estate, a despicable community support officer, a broken alcoholic, and a shooting at a daycare centre, are incredibly bleak and cynical. It’s here that the author really turns up the horror.

However, as the novel progresses and Phil realises that he’s part of something bigger, the tone shifts, showing the wonderful possibilities of these extraordinary characters: gruesome facsimiles that are the
evil Autoscopes, the brave men and women of the Firmament Surgeons, robot sculptures, talking animals and the consciousness of an unborn child.

If anything, there’s too much going on to fit in, and as the characters slip in and out quite abruptly. Although it may not be for everyone, The Night Clock is a bold, striking and fiercely creative horror novel that you should take a chance on.