The Barricade by Nina Allan
Reviewed by Jenny Barber
The catalyst for eveything is the painting Christine finds in a gallery while holidaying with her stolid husband. Her growing fascination with it, and the memories triggered by locals who keep claiming to know her lead her to certain realisations about the state of her marriage while also reawakening things about herself she'd thought she'd forgotten.
The soon-to-be ex-husband is a thoroughly unlikeable chap, and one wonders why Christine took so long to ditch him, or at the very least, let him get away with so much without argument, and it's in such in-depth characterisation that Allan excels. Each carefully constructed layer builds until you're left with a fully encompassing story that wraps you up in the mundane details and makes the dénouement satisfying with the hints of things to come. The elements of the fantastic are subtle to the point of barely noticeable, and can be seen from a mile off but Allan has crafted a beautiful tale that, while not a new twist on selkie mythology, is a solid addition to the genre.
More about Nina Allan can be found here, and more on Dark Currents (edited by Ian Whates) can be found on the Newcon website here.