Release Date: 03/02/11
The Thing on the Shore takes place in a call-centre in Whitehaven, just a short hop from Sellafield along Cumbria's grim western coastline. When Artemis Black (from The Leaping) is assigned to manage the centre on behalf of a mysterious multinational corporation called Interext, the isolation and remoteness of the place encourage him to implement a decidedly unhinged personal project, installing what purports to be cutting-edge AI technology, with a real, human' voice, on the automated answering systems. As a result of Artemis' actions, one of his employees, Arthur, becomes aware of an intangible landscape inside the labyrinthine systems of the call-centre - a landscape in which he can feel some kind of otherworldly consciousness stirring and in which, perhaps as a result of his father's increasingly alarming eccentricities, he feels that he could find his recently deceased mother. Arthur takes refuge in this belief as his father, his job, and his house slowly deteriorate around him. He begins to conflate the mysterious, interstitial region that exists down the phonelines with the sea, as that was where his mother drowned. In a way he is right - Artemis' meddlings have attracted something, it is just not as benevolent as he thinks...
Being a lad from Haven I looked forward to seeing what Tom Fletcher would do with the town, likewise I was also interested to see how things would work out with the horror set in familiar locations. Unfortunately I did end up wondering if the author had ever visited. The locations which whilst technically correct had a lot of the inner details wrong, add to this a stereotypical villain that felt almost laughable in his evil almost moustache twirling schemes left me feeling that parts of this title were just that a joke.
Add to this what felt like poor description, bad prose and an overall arc that really wasn’t anything more than a novella expanded to full novel length and I did end up wondering why he even bothered. There was so much more that could have been done such as the utilisation of the old Marchon facility and the author really sold himself short. A great shame to be honest.