Epeolatry Book Review: Grey Noise by Marcus Hawke
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Title: Grey Noise
Author: Marcus Hawke
Publisher: Hawke Haus Books
Release date: 19th June, 2023
Synopsis: Evan Grey is just trying to get his store, REWIND VIDEO, up and running. Fate, unfortunately, often has other plans. Then he finds something that would be the perfect touch, an old vacuum tube TV. One that keeps turning to static. And it too has other plans.
It follows you.
It’s already inside you.
Lose yourself in… GREY NOISE.
Evan’s love of movies has inspired him to open REWIND VIDEO, a nostalgic store that he hopes will spark a renaissance for VHS tapes, much like music lovers and their vinyl records. For years, he worked for his abusive stepfather, Hank, and dreamed of getting away. Evan saved everything he could, and he is finally about to make his dreams reality. Brimming with movie references such as Ferris Bueller, Top Gun, and my personal favourite, Back to the Future, the novella starts off full of Evan’s hope for a better life.
But then disaster strikes.
On his opening day, Evan finds an old-style vacuum tube television set, the centrepiece for his new enterprise. Only problem is, the TV is possessed. Evan’s head fills with static (grey noise) that drives him past the brink of sanity and upends his life and entire way of thinking.
I enjoyed the beginning of the story the most. Evan is a sympathetic character, and we all have dreams. While I doubt the viability of a strictly VHS store in the modern day, I was rooting for him to succeed. When the TV gets inside his head, Evan lashes out at his few customers and his only friend. His pivot toward rage is so fast that I began to wonder how much was the TV’s influence, how much of this was anger and subsequent breakdown, and how much was inside Evan all along.
Grey Noise is an experimental novella that didn’t completely land for me. I enjoyed the beginning and was cheering for Evan to have a successful store and escape from under his abusive stepfather’s thumb, only to have that story get lost in the unique structure of the book. I went in expecting a campy, horror romp about a haunted television, but got something else entirely.
Interspersed with commercials, images, and a long philosophical section, this book skews away from horror into something else. As a fellow writer, I appreciate how the structure of the book mimics Ethan’s breakdown. It does elevate the tale from a basic horror tale to an exploration of prose and life. However, I think others may appreciate the experimentation more than I did. I found myself getting a bit lost in the middle section before the book veered back on track with a particularly gruesome scene, and then the ending was the most experimental section of all.
Recommended for those who like a little philosophy with their campy horror and can appreciate a unique story structure.
Available from Amazon.
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Melody lives in Ontario, Canada and writes short, dark fiction. She has been published in several anthologies and online publications. In university, she studied Ancient Greek and Roman Studies and often infuses her work with elements of Greek mythology. She also loves reading, embroidery, and martial arts. You can follow her homepage at: https://www.blog.melodyemcintyre.com/