Insanity, horror and dark fiction are my catharsis. Brutally honest reviews are on the house.
Always poetic, Stephen Gregory takes us on a journey through the damp and isolated woods of Wales. The main character, Andrew Pinkney, is a normal bloke with a normal job and a normal girlfriend and a normal life in Sussex. At least until his slightly prudish girlfriend finally gives in to his affections and is subsequently surprised by his limp lack of enthusiasm. With an even greater shock, her laughter elicits blind rage from a man who has failed to rise to the challenge and consummate his otherwise comfortable relationship. In this moment of utter humiliation Andrew strikes Jennifer and not only stops her laughter but she ends up passed out on his floor. Although the damage to Jennifer's face is minimal, Andrew's loss of control earns him some time away from work at the suggestion of his employer where Jennifer also works.
Tail tucked between his legs--so to speak-- Andrew packs his bag and his only current companion, his dog, and heads for his boss' cabin in Wales. The trip is good-naturedly seen as a much needed vacation and a chance for a new start. The cabin is old and dingy but Andrew takes great care in sprucing it up and making it a temporary home for him and Phoebe, his little jet-black collie. During his daily walks through the forest to collect wood, he discovers a growth of foul-smelling Stinkhorn mushrooms who smell of death and stand erect; these little phallus mushrooms reminding him of what he could not achieve on his own. What starts out as a passing fascination soon turns into a driving obsession with a plant that Andrew believes exists merely to taunt him. Andrew soon starts to believe that if he can capture the Stinkhorn and bring them back to Sussex, he can win back his beloved and the life that he wishes to return to.
Wales is unrelentingly damp. The dampness that is rotting the cabin and infiltrating the air also seems to be sinking into his bones-- into his mind and his very soul. When his inadequacy rears its ugly head--the only head being reared--at the hands of a young Welsh girl he takes a liking to, it seems to be enough to push him over the edge and further his obsession with this Stinkhorn, this Woodwitch as it is called.
Stephen Gregory once again brilliantly and beautifully captures the object of his affection. The magic of the Woodwitch will have you questioning your own sanity.
© Andi Rawson from Andreya's Asylum