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Noise Abatement
Carol Anne Davis
The Do Not Press, 244 pages

Noise Abatement
Carol Anne Davis
Carol Anne Davis was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1961. After working briefly as an editorial assistant on a woman's magazine and at other jobs, she attended Dundee University to take a joint degree in English and Social Administration and, later, took a postgraduate diploma in Adult & Community Education at Edinburgh University. In 1998, she left Scotland and moved to the south of England.

Carol Anne Davis Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Safe As Houses

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Oozing, slimy, mutant monsters don't scare me anymore. It's the human monsters among us that keep me constantly wary. These hidden killers are the actual horror that lashes out every day -- and Carol Anne Davis knows it. No wonder hers is among the most terrifying fiction in existence; it could just as easily be true. And that ought to scare the hell out of anyone.

In a block of flats in a residential area of Edinburgh, rage is simmering and it's about to erupt in savagery that will stun the nation. Downstairs, Stephen and Caroline Day want only to go about their everyday lives. Upstairs, three young men appear intent on thwarting the Days at every turn. To be more precise, the neighbours above are creating a little hell on earth. It's torture without provocation. And it's getting more agonizing by the minute.

The Days are trapped in a nightmarish situation and can see no way out. The ear-bleeding noise from upstairs steals their sleep, shatters their nerves, ruins Caroline's health, and makes it impossible to sell the flat and move away. Even when they want to give up, they can't. Finally, Stephen decides to settle the ugly feud his own way. And that is the worst thing that could ever happen to all of them.

Davis' portrayal of an unstable mind sinking inexorably deeper into madness is stunningly realistic. The reader watches, paralyzed, helpless to prevent the inevitable tragedies that race toward them. It is a breathtaking, shattering experience.

Noise Abatement leaves us protesting that we, the gentle readers, could never go so far, never lose control that way. But, somewhere deep inside, is a tiny voice that says don't be so sure. Who knows what each of us is capable of? More significant, how do we know when someone else will reach the breaking point? Is the person behind you on the escalator just waiting for an excuse to blow? The fear is in never knowing the answers.

Dark realism has its star players and Carol Anne Davis is certainly in the forefront of this emerging sub-genre. So few can tighten the screws as well as she does in every novel. Shrouded is shocking. Safe As Houses is chilling. Noise Abatement is pure, petrifying terror. Every one is like a dreadful train wreck -- we want to stop looking, but nothing can tear us away from the scene. She is that talented.

There is one more thing Davis' books deliver: a chance to wake up; be on the watch for the monsters in hiding around us all. Listen to her and be a bit safer. Not many novels offer that kind of a chance. Take it and be grateful. And try to be patient until that next novel comes along.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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