Touched by Darkness by Julia Kavan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Review of Touched by Darkness Anthology
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: DO NOT read this book at night, when alone. Foolish reader that I am, I WANTED something scary to read before bedtime, and when I read the list of authors included in this anthology, I knew my wish would be granted. I only managed to read four stories before sleep, and here’s my view of the first four:
“Evelyn Thayer”: I raced through this one with a wry smile, nodding my head and mentally cheering, “Go, Girl!”
“Teaching Man”: A powerful story of 19th century or earlier Frontier Mentality-and the repercussions of oppressions of the female species
“Stew”: oh boy! How do I describe my feelings about this one? POETIC JUSTICE RULES
“Masked”: THIS is the story I should NOT have read alone before sleep-SCARY!IMPLACABLE! Juggernaut quality! NIGHTMARE-PRODUCING!! I loved it!!
The remaining eight, read until I could scarcely keep my eyes open (but with multiple lights on):
“Trust Me”: weird, unexpected, but tasty and delightful
“In My Lady’s Chamber”: I’ve learned to expect from Catherine Cavendish subtle, escalating frights, and this story is no exception! Yes, it scared me-yes, I’ll probably have nightmares-isn’t that the point? Just one admonition: this story delivers a kicker ending comparable to the sting of a scorpion: just when you think it’s all over and finally safe-wham!!!
“The Dead Hate the Living”: in some ways, I was already inclined to agree with the title; but after reading this story, I can definitely see why-poor man!
“Dreaming, Not Sleeping”: If it’s true that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” what happens when beauty is only illusion, and illusion dissolves?
“Be Seeing You”: pure horror here; the first sentence made me jump out of my skin. By the last paragraph I could feel potential nightmares forming.
“Black Habits”: gory, graphic, unexpected horror-on a strong foundation of psychological horror founded in the Id’s conflict with guilt and shame
“Attachment”: quite a different approach, and a premise dealing with some aspects of the best and the worst of the human emotional continuum
“We Shadows Have Offended”: another horrifying story of implacability, a Supernatural force seemingly unconquerable, similar in category though not in rendering to “Masked.” Definitely a nightmare-inspirer. I keep shaking myself all over like a wet dog spraying water in an attempt to shake the memory of this story.
I reviewed this at the request of one of the authors in this anthology, Catherine Cavendish, who kindly provided me with a review e-book copy on Sept. 13, 2012, in exchange for my provision of a fair and impartial review.
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