Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear

Terry Dowling, Author . Cemetery Dance $40 (320p) ISBN 978-1-58767-123-4

The everyday and ordinary show an unexpected malignant side in this collection of 18 uniquely disturbing tales of the fantastic. Dowling grounds his tales in mundane situations, then pulls back slowly to reveal (as the narrator of "Scaring the Train" calls them) "those moments of incidental framing reality where every commonplace surprises you." In "Cheat Light," a roll of film left in a pawnshop camera reveals images of an otherworldly origin. "Clownette" tells of a peculiar blotch on a hotel wall that proves to be something much worse than the harmless mildew stain it's mistaken for. "Maze Man," whose protagonist is trapped in an invisible maze that only he cannot penetrate, is one of several stories in which architecture motifs suggest alternate realities encroaching on our own. This is Dowling's first U.S. collection after several in his native Australia, and the selection of stories new and old makes for one of the year's more satisfying dark fantasy reads. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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