The Golden Tup by Leslie W P Garland
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (88 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
The Golden Tup: A dreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.
“But whom sent I to judge them?”
Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?
Small communities have long memories. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on what they’re remembering.
Gossip is everywhere. One of my favorite parts of the plot was when it showed just how eager some people are to believe anything they’re told as well as to spread it along to as many of their friends as possible. This wasn’t a topic I was at all expecting to see mentioned in a horror tale, so it was fascinating to see how the author tied together everything together. It is yet another reason why I enjoy his tales so much.
I would have liked to have a few more details about Constance and Matthew’s reaction to the evil they encountered. This was such an important part of the plot that I was a little surprised that it wasn’t given more attention. I always enjoy the challenge of figuring out what a narrator is hinting at without being directly told what’s going on, but I would have loved it even more if I’d had a few more hints to work with here.
With that being said, this is one of the scariest stories I’ve read in ages. One of the things I appreciate the most about Mr. Garland’s work is how much time he gives his characters to reveal their deepest secrets to the audience. This is the kind of horror that slowly sneaks up on a reader, and that makes it so much fun to read. I actually found myself getting more frightened after I’d finished the last scene and started thinking about that strange farm where Matthew and Constance lived again. There were so many details of their lives there that became much more alarming once I knew how those things fit together and what they meant. Sometimes there’s a good reason why old buildings have been abandoned, after all!
This book is part of the Red Grouse series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.
Give The Golden Tup a try if you’re in the mood for something bone-chillingly creepy.