Matt Wilven’s immersive writing style could well result in a spell of intensive therapy as the reader is taken on an incursive journey into the head of a father struggling to deal with the sense of loss brought about by the death of his son.
Vince’s filial dependency on Charlie is replaced in grief by a medically induced dependency on lithium which he misguidedly views as a creative suppressant whose stabilising properties should be reversed but in taking this unsupervised action he instead regresses into a delusional world lived in the half-light of his tortured imagination.
This response to a death so painful it destroys any semblance of normality is put under the microscope by the author’s forensic eye for detail as he manages to blur reality and the grieving madness of a father unable to accept the finality of death. And yet in an almost ironic nod to Hitchcock we are presented with a blackbird as the symbol of both hope and impending doom.
Animalistic imagery conveys a sense of the macabre and in many ways reflects the all enveloping gloom hanging over Vince and his impenetrable grief. The almost surreal significance of “Blackie” could have the potential to undermine the credibility of the plot but as a narrative tool it somehow seems to mirror Vince’s need to accept his insanity before he can start to regain his old self.
Occassionally displacing the marital and grieving issues experienced by Vince and his wife Lyd are an eclectic supporting cast of characters who struggle to articulate the words of comfort required to pull the affected out of their black hole of despair. Chinks of light are provided by occasional burst of humour but the mood is generally dark.
The surprising climax is reminiscent of an iconic scene from a Ridley Scott sci-fi classic but throughout we are aware of the author’s personal investment in the characters he has created and the off beat acceptance of a bird inadvertently leading the deranged out of the haze of madness somehow comes to make sense when it is ultimately one man wanting to know why and no one able to provide the answer.
The Blackbird Singularity by Matt Wilven (Published by Legend Press. Price £8.99)