cover image The Gypsy Spiders and Other Tales of Italian Horror

The Gypsy Spiders and Other Tales of Italian Horror

Nicola Lombardi, trans. from the Italian by J. Weintraub. Tartarus, $40 (276p) ISBN 978-1-912586-32-5

In this dread-soaked collection, Lombardi offers nine harrowing horror shorts bound together by a focus on alienation, trauma, and identity. In the title novella, a shattered WWII soldier deserts his station and returns home to find that his younger brother has disappeared, embroiling him in a web of murder, arachnoid visions, and family secrets long buried. An unhinged shut-in with ambitions of matrimony holds an incapacitated soldier captive in “Alina’s Ring.” “Tests of Courage” centers on a young hemophobe who must complete a series of bloody, grisly tasks to join a local gang. In “The House of Scolopendra,” a mother and son discover that the seething mass of centipedes in their home is much less upsetting than the secrets between them. Throughout, Lombardi maintains a nervy, churning atmosphere, keeping readers just off-balance enough to let the big beats feel shocking and subversive. The characters’ introspection can be excessive, however, and longer entries have a tendency to lose themselves in navel-gazing. But the payoffs are always worth it; Lombardi has a knack for writing endings that linger. Lovers of postwar narratives and surrealist horror won’t want to miss this. (Feb.)