It has to be said, oral histories are one of my favourite types of books. Not just in terms of fiction but in general. It is a sub-genre that lends itself particularly well to horror and sci-fi, if done well. The lead example being World War Z by Max Brooks and large elements of The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling.
Wylding Hall ticked a lot of boxes for me. Oral History – Check. Gothic/ghost story setup – Check. Tainted history of a band or musician – Check.
I checked the book out on Audible and was glad that I did. The narration from the voice cast is absolutely excellent. The general premise is that the surviving members of Windhollow Faire, a promising teenage folk band from the 60s come together to discuss the making of their album, the titular “Wylding Hall” forty years after its release. Their story is one of tragedy and loss, including the mysterious disappearance of Julian, their lead singer and lead creative force.
The narrative is fairly slow, with horror seeping in around the edges of discourse around how the band met and got their break. Despite most of the horror here being quiet, there is a sense of dread and foreshadowing that pervades throughout. An overtone that the worst is yet to come.
Each character here is nicely drawn, something that was accentuated by listening to the book. But each has their own voice and quirks that would make them unique, even on the page itself. Each character has secrets and opinions all of their own as well as a full and fleshed out set of background circumstances.
When the terror does arrive, Hand draws it nicely. A few images raised hairs on the back of my neck during the morning commute, which always shows something has really hit the mark.
This books was recommended to me by Michael Wilson, and I have to say that it fell perfectly into the middle of my wheelhouse. I can’t recommend it enough. The Amazon link to the book is below, but for the full hit, get it on Audible if possible. Don’t forget, your first book is free when you sign up. Wylding Hall would be an excellent place to start.