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These are the chronicles of a book addict, a photo junkie, and an aspiring author, rewriting the very fabric of reality one page (and one snapshot) at a time. From the strange to the unusual; the abandoned to the abnormal; the haunted to the historic; the supernatural to the surreal; the forests of dark fantasy, the cemeteries of gothic horror, and the post-apocalyptic ruins of science fiction are the landscapes of my imagination.
Although I've found myself souring a bit on science fiction lately, with my reading tastes driving me firmly back into the realms of epic fantasy, horror has always been my first love. It's what I remember reading first, and what has driven most of my own writing endeavors. So, while I hardly need an excuse to celebrate the genre, events like Women in Horror Month certainly do provide a convenient prompt for me to look beyond the towering review pile and into well-stocked TBR shelves that fill my e-reader and (quite literally) cover the house.
Mercedes M. Yardley opens the collection with a sadly powerful tale called "Little Dead Red." If you've read Yardley before, then you know she pulls no punches, so don't go looking for happy endings here. This is a very dark tale of child abuse, brutal murder, and one mother's desperate quest for vengeance. It's an emotional tale, and one that really gets under your skin, with a final twist/reveal that sucker-punches you in the gut.
The next novel in the collection, "Nectar," by Allison M. Dickson isn't necessarily any lighter, but definitely more rooted in fantasy and wonder than cold, hard sorrow. Two men find themselves seduced, captured, and fed upon by two beautiful, unearthly beauties who smell and taste like an intoxicating blend of sweets and sugars. They're also very addictive, fattening up their captives even as they drive them slowly insane. As for why and how . . . well, that's not my place to say, but it's a fantastic twist on the fairy tale theme.
"The Leopard's Pelt" by S.R. Cambridge reminds me more of English horror stories like The Monkey's Paw than anything out of Grimm, but it was still one of my favorites in the collection. Henry Lowery, WWII survivor, ends up stranded on a strangely deserted island, with only an empty collection of huts and a single Japanese corpse to keep him company. Until, that is, 'she' arrives . . . a leopard who offers him salvation and infinite wealth in exchange for seven years penance. It's a simple story, but well-told, with more than one reward to be found before the end.
Stacey Turner, former owner and now Managing Editor of the Angelic Knight Pressimprint, wraps things up with "The Night Air." While this one is very much rooted in fairy tale lore, it also has a distinctly surreal Twilight Zone feel to it. The small town of Hubble is as quaint as it is backward, with no love for technology or outsiders, and little to say about the small, children's tombstones found in the woods. All I'll say about this one is that Marla really should have listened when she was told to "keep those windows closed tight tonight" against "things that call to the children." Creepy, eerie, and surreal, but a fitting end to the collection.