When I am promised weird tales, I want weird tales...with this collection by Christopher Slatsky, I was given weird tales. Some of them really weird.
Opening with the beautifully bizarre, "Loveliness Like A Shadow," we are immediately immersed in a pool of unease and disorientation. A pool that we stew in until turning that final page of this collection. This story about a lonely woman haunted inwardly and outwardly, reminded me of Polanski's The Tenant. only in tone. "An Infestation Of Stars" mines some Lovecraftian ore with its theme of a girl and her family's research of an old cult and what follows. "Making Snakes" was a very odd exercise in bizarre and unsettling territory. In it, girls discuss an entity known as "The Powdery Man" who, I must admit, haunted me.
In the gorgeously titled, "The Ocean Is Eating Our Graves" we walk a tightrope between cosmic horror and sea monster tale. It's enough of both to warm the dark hearts of horror lovers but possesses enough character to appease those who want a sliver more. "This Fragmented Body" is the disturbing story of a man and his doll. "Tellurian Facade" concerns an inheritance and the horror that goes with it. "Film Maudit" is the story of a horror film nut, the kind who lives for that obscure film that no one has seen. He gets his wish and the consequences are devilish. this tale was ripe with a Clive Barkeresque quality and was one of my favorites in the collection. The stories I chose not to point out are no less brazen in their off-kilter images and themes.
Honestly, I am running out of ways to sum this book up. Weird is overused but goddamned if it isn't applicable here. These tales are strange-weird-whatever other terms you can dredge up with your Thesaurus. But they are also pretty good. Many have images that will linger behind your eyes for a while.
Alectrymancer and Other Weird Tales is available though Dunhams Manor Press.