First published back in June of 2000, US author Douglas Clegg’s novella ‘Purity’ was originally released as the eighth part in Cemetary Dance Publications’ limited edition hardback ‘Novella Series’. The novella was later offered in December of 2000 as a free online download on the author’s website before going back on sale as a short ebook.
Every summer, the wealthy Montgomery family come to the remote and picturesque island of Outerbridge, where they own a plush summer estate. Maintaining the estates grounds, the Montgomery’s employ a general groundskeeper and caretaker, who resides at the property, maintaining it throughout the year. And each year, the groundskeeper’s son, Owen Crites, has gotten to know the Montgomery’s daughter Jenna that little bit more.
An affectionate bond between the two youngsters has been allowed to blossom each summer over the years. For Owen, Jenna is everything. She is beauty, she is desire, she is absolute perfection. But now that they are both on the cusp of adulthood, Owen knows that his time with Jenna is likely to come to an end. A new and exciting life awaits the bright and intelligent girl. What could the son of a groundskeeper possibly offer her?
And then, from across the water, Jenna suddenly arrives with her new boyfriend – Jimmy McTeague. Jealousy consumes Owen from the moment he sees the two together. Jimmy with his charm, charisma, education and wealth. From out of nowhere, he has swooped in and stolen the girl of Owen’s dreams. The one woman who means everything to him. The one woman he will do anything to get back.
It’s time to return to the ancient statue of Dagon. The statue that he found in the nearby caverns. The statue of the great fish-god that must now grant him the power that he needs. The power to give him back the woman of his dreams...
Being a novella, the tale is relatively simplistic in its plot, with only a handful of characters making an appearance in the tale. Essentially, the story is a bitter love-triangle, with obsession, jealousy and anger overwhelming the distraught character of Owen Crites.
Where the real strength in the story comes is with Clegg’s ability to portray the characters with an incredible richness. The complexities of teenage emotions are seeked out, exposed and let to unnaturally flourish into a much darker presence.
Clegg’s inclusion of the fish-god statue that Crities unearths and names ‘Dagon’ is a little off-putting at first with its surreal connection to Lovecraft’s signature mythos. However, Clegg manages to quickly pull in the weirdness of this Lovecraftian homage, encircling Crities’ spiralling depression with this new and far more sinister undertone. A darker underbelly to the novella begins to form, and with it comes the uncontrollably mounting tension. It’s now just a matter of how and when it will all explode.
The tale is certainly not a through-and-through horror novel. It’s more a character-rich tale of teenage emotions gone dangerously sour. Jealousy quickly turns to rage. Obsession turns to desperation. And ultimately love turns to bitter revenge.
The end result is a deeply compelling and engaging read that quickly draws the reader into the emotionally devastating love-triangle, and then keeps up the pressure until the exploding point is finally reached.
The tale runs for a total of 120 pages.
© DLS Reviews