I love it when stories have strong narrator voices. The way the story is told gives you a sense of the narrator’s character without describing them directly. It can make for a really interesting read.
This year, I’ve encountered two Cthulhu mythos stories that do this well, and that make the mythos accessible to someone like me who doesn’t know it well.
First up is “My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy, Aged 7” by David Tallerman. It’s told from the point of view of a 7-year-old girl. She’s describing her friend, nicknamed Fishfinger, who is nice but unusual. Her parents worship a strange god and they’re going to take Daisy on holiday with them. From the child’s point of view, it’s incredibly sweet. As an adult reading the story, it’s obvious what’s amiss, and Cthulhu fans will doubtless know exactly what it refers to. The contrast between the strong character perspective and the reader’s understanding creates a wonderful strand of dark humour, as well as telling us a lot about the characters involved.
Then there’s “Donald” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. An academic, responding to some unnamed investigator, tells the story of his encounters with a man named Donald Toomey. Again, there are the ironies that creep in through the gaps between reader and narrator understanding. There’s also a great pleasure to be taken in the narrator’s voice. His opinions, biases, and assumptions flavour the text like tasty spices. There’s a certain amount of belligerence and bloody-mindedness. There’s also a tendency to assume that the world works a certain way, a set of academic assumptions that are carefully shown rather than crudely explained. It makes the storytelling subtle and the voice authentic.
I love this sort of storytelling and have set myself the challenge of trying it in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can find “My Friend Fishfinger” in David’s collection The Sign in the Moonlight. “Donald” is in The Private Lives of Elder Things. And if you’re after more supernatural horror then check out the latest issue of 9Tales Told in the Dark, featuring my story “Cold Flesh”.