The Appetite by Nicholas Royle. Gray Friar Press (2008) £8.00
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn
Nicholas Royle is one of the UK’s literary secrets. He quietly and all too infrequently writes masterfully disturbing stories and novels. The Appetite is such an example. This novella (similarly to Graham Joyce’s Three Ways to Snog an Alien, also reviewed in this blog) is about two people falling in love. Royle places this romance against the backdrop of a hurricane and its aftermath. The fierce storm, with its strong merciless winds, swept people up into the clouds, seemingly to disappear. But a few days later they return, falling out of the sky. Miraculously, there are only slight injuries.
Sally is one of the storm’s victims, and returning to earth she falls into Mike’s arms. And so begins their romantic liaison. She, though, is happily married and refuses to leave her husband. And so their relationship spirals into issues of guilt and claustrophobia.
And at the same time the world around them shifts, moving closer together, as if things are shrinking. This only compounds the sense of claustrophobia.
The Appetite effectively captures the conflicting emotions of Mike and Sally. It delineates their stresses as they test their relationship, until Sally has to finally decide.
Nicholas Royle, in this book, has taken a simple tale, added an element of strangeness, and then twisted in the literary knife. This is surely a front runner for the British Fantasy Award’s Best Novella next year.