Among strange stories there are some stories so strange that they approach the frozen region locked inside David Copperfield's heart. John Connolly's Deep Dark Green is one such story.
In a valley town lives a creature which feeds on the lives of the young. After unspeakable tragedy the townspeople flood the valley, leaving the creature chained inside its dwelling, at the bottom of a new lake. But it lives on, luring more victims into the viscous waters that are now its home. The narrator details one such incident, when he and his young lover ignore word of mouth warnings as old wives' tales and stray to the edge of the lake to make love. His lover enters the lake naked and does not return. He follows, diving deep into curious water, and sees an ordinary cottage sunk into mud, and decorated by tumbrils of weed that are the bodies of its victims; his lover already the trophy of an old monstrous wife, and his young love become an old wives' tale.
A beautiful story, impeccably conceived and developed; short, powerful and tragic. The prose is as viscous as the lake at the surface, but the deeper the story goes, the more intense is the sensation of holding one's breath as Connolly beaches his consonants and drowns his vowels. As context I was reminded of the old Welsh film, The Last Days of Dolwyn, in which a valley town is flooded for different reasons, with similar results.
Deep Dark Green is contained in John Connolly's collection of stories, Nocturnes, a rather outstanding volume which places him in a strange, welcome place.