A Child of Wight by A.R. Kahler
I‘ll be the first one to admit that this was a surprising read. Having read much of A.R. Kahler’s body of work, A Child of Wight has a very different tone than his other work. It is sparse, and quiet, and grey, evoking the Edward Gorey books I have loved since my admittedly macabre childhood.
Sparse and quiet and grey are not words usually used to describe either the man himself or his writing. And yet, here we are. Time for something new, something oddly restrained. But for a story about death, and dying, and coming up short of expectations, it works. It works beautifully.
The world of A Child of Wight is mysterious, even hinting at scary, yet it feels familiar enough to grasp, to understand. This world is not a happy one, but it is one where beauty can still be found. Good things, also, can happen, even if they are tainted by the looming danger.
Edgar wants nothing more than to be a psychopomp, an occupation and genetic ability that has run in his family for quite some time. Unfortunately, Edgar seems to lack his birthright and feels like an utter disappointment. And then there’s the whole matter of his eldest sister showing such talent and promise…
Time for disclosure. Mr. Kahler is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for over a decade, a decade that spans back into our coming-of-age years. This was not the story I was expecting, would have ever expected from him. And you might think our friendship may cloud my opinion of his work, might make me more open to saying it’s good. To which I say, go read it for yourself and then dare call me a liar.