The Electric by Andrew David Barker
Genre: Ghost Story, Coming of Age.
I must admit I am partial to a well written Ghost Story but this one really was a cut above the rest. It is ingenious and fresh with a premise that draws you in almost immediately. A teenage boy finds an abandoned cinema in the wasteland near his home, where long dead stars create films and an audience of the deceased congregate to experience films from the grave.
Like Sam I am a particular fan of old films and was more likely to be watching Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart than the brat-pack as a teenager. I too had a little gang who would hide in the undergrowth and play too close to the river.
The central dynamic between Emma, David and our narrator Sam through whose point of view we experience The Electric is reminiscent of those in Stephen King’s Short Story The Body (which later became cult Classic Stand By Me) or the early storyline of IT or Dreamcatcher. Teens brought together and irrevocably changed by a shared experience and whilst this is a deeply atmospheric tale, a spine tingle festival, it is actually a much more nuanced and tender tale about the callowness of youth, about grief and loss and the acceptance of those emotions and of final goodbyes.
Where stars of a Bygone age cannot let go of their need to be in Movies, and buffs just want one more thrill in those velveteen seats, where love, betrayal romance and high adventure are reflected from the screen into the lives of the viewer. Here two young souls find each other as they seek to go on after the loss of a parent.
I was profoundly moved by the story (so if you were in Waltham Abbey today and you saw a woman crying as she trudged through the wind, sorry that was The Electric Effect) and yet deeply uplifted by Story’s End. The best story allows the reader to carry on the tale and here is one where we really can do it…
Where the stars we have loved and lost are collaborating together to star again in great Drama and other lost souls are sitting in the dark letting that story unfold before their very eyes.
A word about the Narration by Nigel Peever: This is one of the most immersive tellings of a tale I have listened to in a long time. Nigel has a knack for creating true emotion in his characterisation , anger and sarcasm and deep loss are felt as well as heard and his general narration voice is so strongly enunciated with such warmth and timbre that you cannot help but be drawn further and further into the story. Definitely added to my favourite Narrators list!!