Rhitta Gawr: David Watkins
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I’ve only read Watkins ‘The Original’s Return’ as well as his short story in the ‘Leaders of the Pack’ werewolf anthology, but when he announced he was going to be releasing a Demain Publishing Short! Sharp! Shocks! book and I read the synopsis, I was so excited. Watkins does a really great job of writing action-packed scenes and knowing we were going to be reading a folklore story set in the mountains – well that’s a book that’s tailor-made for me!
What I liked: ‘Rhitta Gawr’ opens with two out-of-towners doing their best to upset the locals at the town pub. Philip and Quin are there to hike a mountain nearby and see why people rave about it, but, as most out-of-towners do, they upset some bar folk. It’s only when the bartender steps in and offers to help them climb the mountain that things settle down. Of course, the bartender is a mysterious female and one who seems to charm both Philip and Quin equally and quickly.
The book moves along at a very brisk pace and Watkins jumps back and forth between lush descriptive scenes and bare-bones minimal moments, which all work together to feel like the mountain itself is breathing.
I loved the panic that you can feel as the book nears the finale. I won’t say ‘what’ happens, but the connection between their guide, the mountain and the lore around the area was phenomenal.
What I didn’t like: I will say this – when strange roars and noises happen and Philip and Quin just push it away and keep going – I struggled with that. I could see why. Charmed by the bartender, enchanted by them hiking this mountain at night, but when you are in the mountains at night and something roars, most won’t keep going. If you can overlook that and suspend your belief, you’re in for a treat.
Why you should buy this: Watkins writes with a real flow for tension. Things ramp up and they ramp up quickly. What happens at the ending is pure fun and not a topic we see a lot of in horror novellas or horror stories in general. It was refreshing and it reminded me of a lot of the movies I watched growing up.
This was a fast read, and I had a smile on my face for most of it. Really well done.
Philip and Quin believe climbing Snowdon at night will be a worthy challenge.
If they knew the local legends they wouldn’t go at night, as there’s a reason the Welsh call Snowdon Yr Wyddfa — The Burial Ground — which Philip and Quin are about to find out the hard way…
(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here