The Narrows

Written by Alexander C. Irvine
Review by Mary K. Bird-Guillams

One reader called this author’s style “historical occult fiction,” which is a more precise term than alternate history, although Mr. Irvine’s novels are certainly that as well. The events aren’t altered, precisely, he just adds mythological creatures to them, so there are golems in the factory, imps in the foundry, and the Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf) capering as an omen of disaster for Detroit. Ford factory worker Jared Cleaves has injuries to his hand that prevent him from army service in World War I, so instead he works the “Frankenline” forming golems from clay. Because he sees the Nain Rouge in his dreams, he attracts the attention of a network of spies and counterspies operating in the area. His domestic life, already suffering from lack of self-esteem due to his draft status and his wife’s higher paying job, becomes entangled in the espionage, and the danger escalates to threaten everything he holds dear. Mr. Irvine’s writing shines with realistic description and character development, which points up the fantastic elements by contrast. The book requires a bit of a mind stretch to take in this created world, but is worth the effort and it will appeal to horror fans, fantasy fans and science fiction fans, as well as history fans.