cover image The Old Knowledge and Other Strange Tales

The Old Knowledge and Other Strange Tales

Rosalie Parker, Swan River (, $26 (128p) ISBN 9780956658708

The eight stories in this beguiling first collection are full of apprehension and mysteries whose solutions often dangle just out of reach of the characters. In "The Rain," a single woman's holiday visit to a small town turns nightmarish when the locals turn on her for some obscure violation of their customs. "Chanctonbury Ring" tells of an archeologist who encounters at the site of two ancient Roman temples a teenage girl and baby who, as the narrator comes to realize, belong to an earlier time. The title story, which also features an archeological excavation, is narrated by a woman who clearly knows more about the ruins that remain unearthed at a local burying ground than she lets on to either the interloping archeologists or to the reader. Although some of the stories end so ambiguous as to be anticlimactic, Parker shows considerable skill at creating dramatic tension and moods of menace that will appeal to fans of subtly told tales of the macabre. (Sept.)