Mark Fuller Dillon is a writer of exemplary short stories and novellas. I have previously reviewed both his collection In a Season of Dead Weather and his novella All Roads Lead to Winter. Both are supreme examples of story writing and are essential for anyone with an interest in strange stories, science fiction – or just good storytelling.
His latest publication is a novella called At First, You Hear the Silence. Philippe is 13 and growing up in rural Canada. He is only just becoming aware of his own mortality and of the secrets lurking deep within his family's past. Philippe endures a difficult relationship with his father – until, one day, he has the opportunity to prove his worth: he is to be left to look after the farm, while the rest of his family go away on an overnight trip. His mother prepares Philippe for this test by making a list of his duties for the morning. Nothing could have prepared him, however, for what he must endure the following day. His world is shifted on its axis by a series of occurrences which test his resolve to the extreme. He is changed forever – but how has it affected his relationship with his father?
At First, You Hear the Silence is a fast-moving, compelling read which contains the best that horror, fantasy and science fiction have to offer. Mark Fuller Dillon's writing constantly evolves. His prose is both expertly crafted and precise, deftly creating an atmosphere of unease and, ultimately, dread. This is a great read. I would defy any lover of good fiction to not read this novella in one sitting.