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Tom Schan ‘The Fiendish Furnishing’ Review

The Fiendish Furnish Temp Cover

Written by: James Keen

“You cannot win a standoff with an inanimate object.”

It’s difficult to counter Tom Schan’s opening salvo in ‘The Fiendish Furnishing’ with any real degree of criticism, since it’s a dedication where he states that without certain people being in his life, “none of this vile crap would have been written.” It’s an endearingly self-effacing start that allows the reader to sit back before plunging on with the book to wonder, Well, just how ‘vile’ is this “crap”?

The Fiendish Furnishing’, the debut novella from Schan takes as it’s setting a dystopian city of a possible                                             alternate                                                 near-future,

“Some say the City of Helmstone guards the edge of the earth; that across the sea was Hades, and if paid enough, Charon the ferryman offered refuge to the damned. It figured. This city was a dump and the storm that had visited that evening must have been in agreement for it appeared hell-bent on cleansing the streets of their squalor.”

Establishing the locale with an economically descriptive verve Schan then sets about delineating the primary characters in his tale: Terence, “a thin, weasel-faced twenty eight year old man” and Jessie Muldoon, his attractive young girlfriend of whom Terence comments early on, “the girl reminded me of my mother. She didn’t like me very much either.” The pair both reside in an eighth floor apartment -the primary location for much of the novella’s brisk run – of such paltry décor Terence laments visitors to it “could have been forgiven for mistaking our flat for the home of a recently deceased geriatric.” Jessie, it turns out is a manipulative and explosively violent character while Terence comes across as something of an emotional doormat for his partner.

This is the part in the review where the reviewer figuratively takes a deep breath and attempts to further outline the decidedly odd nature of Schan’s narrative. Terence runs a museum, current down on its fortunes who acquires a chair that he thinks might revive the museum’s prospects. A chair with a disturbingly sinister history. Jessie is a surgeon who frequently arrives home covered in the blood of patients she’s operated on…and, oh yes, the chair is haunted. This is a vengeful piece of furniture that has much in common with King’s ‘Christine’ in that it’s an inanimate object with a creepy and deviously creative manner of dispatching it’s victims.

I might be doing the writer a disservice here by suggesting that this is not a horror novel as might be expected by the genre-hungry audience, more a blackly comic and wildly inventive farcical tale with unsettling imagery and an extremely uncomfortable story element that becomes more pronounced as the tale winds up to its violent climax. Also, it’s arguable that Schan’s narrative would benefit greatly from a more adroit editor as there are a few misjudged set-pieces that are clumsily arranged and there are unfortunate typo’s here and there. The use of the four separate narrators here to tell this bizarre story is often bewildering given that they all share similar use of diction and so it’s sometimes difficult to pin down who is observing what.

So, as a kind of summation, it’s this reviewers contention that if  ‘The Mighty Boosh’ were ever to sit down and write a ‘horror’ novel, it’s highly likely the end result would be something resembling Tom Schan’s ‘The Fiendish Furnishing’, a curious, sometimes hilarious, crude, though certainly engaging first effort.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. And you can take from that what you will.

Grab it here and give it a go, you can never fully trust James: we believe he suffers from split personality syndrome!

Rating: 2.5/5

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

7 Comments on Tom Schan ‘The Fiendish Furnishing’ Review

  1. Is this novella all over the place or what ? You still bring to your review something that makes me wonder if I would enjoy it…with the exception of extreme violence I often like the bizarre tales…not big on gore..with a few exceptions…Lansdale can bring gore to a story that is tempered with a humor that keeps me fascinated….as always…just me..vitina


    • James Keen // April 10, 2013 at 9:29 am // Reply

      Hi Vitina. There’s a problem reviewing short works in that you don’t want to give too much away and there’s much more content in Schan’s text than I have outlined. Give it a shot; like Matt says I’m probably bipolar…heh-heh…


  2. The concept behind the Helmstone City series is that they’re modern day pulp stories. I started out with the brief of creating some absurd B movie scenario but with the aim of writing as solid and intricate story around that situation as I could.

    This was a book for fans of movies such as ’20 Million Miles To Earth’, ‘Evil Dead 2’, ‘Tales From The Crypt’ and, of course, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ but it evolved from that- slightly- and I hope it has a much more mainstream audience than first intended.

    Kept intentionally brief ‘The Fiendish Furnishing’ is an adventure that could be read during a flight or a train journey and discarded afterwards but hopefully you’ll be clinging on to it to read it once again.


    Tom Schan


    • jameskeen89450 // April 10, 2013 at 9:45 am // Reply

      Don’t get me wrong, Tom; for the most part I did enjoy this but I found the narrator-switches confusing because of the language used. I found there was very little differentiation between them.
      You know, this would make for an interesting graphic novel, too.
      Is ‘Pain to Gamble’ another novella set in the same milieu? Another Helmstone City tale?
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


      • Hi James

        It’s fun to share my work so please don’t think I have any ill feeling toward the review. I want it to get out there for as many people to read as possible and your comments ultimately will help.

        I can appreciate your comments with regards to the characters ‘talking’ differently. I worked hard to bring out a very different character for each of them but failed in my attempts to differentiate between their language used. I did, however- rightly or wrongly- intentionally keep it ambiguous for the first few sentences between switches in character.

        ‘Pain to Gamble’ is the second in the Helmstone City series and follows the struggle of a gambling addicted werewolf and, in my opinion, is much stronger structurally. I would like to add that they’re both novels as they’re over 40,000 words but kept intentionally close to the cut off to ensure remain a fun, if not sickly, jaunt.


  3. jameskeen89450 // April 10, 2013 at 11:27 am // Reply

    Thanks Tom,
    Love the synopsis. Sounds wild. Looking forward to the book. Best of luck.


  4. No worries, thanks for the review, James and thanks to Matt for agreeing to have the book reviewed for his site.



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