Night Shade: Gothic Tales and Supernatural Stories by Women

Victoria A. Brownworth, Editor, Judith M. Redding, Editor
Victoria A. Brownworth, Editor, Judith M. Redding, Editor Seal Press (CA) $14.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-58005-024-1
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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Evidently the editors of this anthology define ""gothic"" as stories of the supernatural. As such, however, most of these 17 stories fall flat, for they lack the frissons of fear and suspense so necessary to the genre. Also, few of the selections fit the editors' stated theme of transformation. The stories themselves are competently written, and readers will find some satisfaction in the sheer variety of these dark tales, some of which edge into the (primarily lesbian) erotic. Subjects range from the empowerment of a Scarlett O'Hara-like Southern belle through voodoo-induced lycanthropy (Diane DeKalb-Rittenhouse's ""Femme Coverte"") to the romance of an unwed, pregnant, Hispanic teen with a shape-shifting witch-dog (Terri de la Pe a's ""La Noche""). The better stories are the most unusual. Joyce Wagner's ""Newtime Cowboy"" succeeds as an amusing, if obvious, tale about a Hollywood superstar who changes into a strip of film. Meredith Baird imagines a deformed child's strange symbiosis with her mother in ""Breech Birth."" Jean Stewart's strong characterization of humans and dogs drives the plot of ""Feeding the Dark,"" in which a tough policewoman finds true love with a leather-clad goddess when she joins a pack of canine vigilantes. With the exception of Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman's ""Luella Miller""--a fine New England yarn first published in 1903--the stories are previously unpublished works from contemporary writers. At least 12 of the 17 authors (including the editors, who have each included a story of her own) have appeared in Brownworth's earlier anthologies. Considering the number of women writing supernatural fiction these days, perhaps this uninspired volume would have been better served by dipping into a broader pool of contributors. (May)
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