Seven Strange Stories

Rebecca Lloyd. Tartarus, $50 (256p) ISBN 978-1-905784-96-7
Horrors both seen and unseen abound in this exquisite collection of macabre tales by World Fantasy Award–finalist Lloyd. Three stories feature houses with supernaturally charged histories. In “Where’s the Harm?” a pair of brothers are beguiled by a family of seven weird sisters who live in a house that they never knew existed in the forest near their family home. “Jack Werrett, the Flood Man” concerns a house rented to a tenant who’s unaware that its ownership is disputed by family members, one of whom may not be entirely of this world. In “Little Black Eyes and Tiny Hands,” a young boy who breaks his promise not to enter an abandoned house with a sinister reputation suffers ill luck in his adult life, possibly at the instigation of its infamous former tenant. In “Christy” and “The Pantun Burden,” boys are prey to presences visible only to them: a seemingly friendly entity who repeatedly invites a boy to come live with him in the walls of his house and a mischievous ghost that manifests in half-animal/half-human form. Lloyd’s horrors often take the reader by surprise, in part through her skill at rendering their supernaturalism ambiguous—for example, in “The Monster Orgorp,” where it’s never entirely clear whether the unguents and perfumes a scullery maid sees her mistress make are the witch’s concoctions she takes them for or simply cosmetic preparations. This volume will appear to readers who like stories that are subtle as well as strange. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/17/2017
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