cover image Dark Arts

Dark Arts

Eric Stener Carlson. Tartarus, $50 (244p) ISBN 978-1-912586-40-0

The characters in these 12 unsettling tales from Carlson (The Saint Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires) frequently straddle alternate realities that make them question the certainty of their world. In “Golden Book,” a woman pines for the exhilarating sense of freedom she enjoyed as a discarnate soul before her dead body was brought back to life by ER doctors. “Leopard-spotted Scarf” concerns a young woman who plays hooky from her job, oblivious to the tragic reason why “things seem a bit off” for her that day. In “Bradycardia,” an editor loses his ability to distinguish between his waking life as a talented publishing professional and dreams in which he is a commercial hack, leading to a truly horrifying outcome that marks this as the darkest story of the lot. Even in stories that are not overtly macabre—among them “Corridor” and “Divining Rod”—Carlson’s characters seek refuge from the grim reality of their present situations in pleasant memories and willful make-believe. These subtle, oblique tales are sure to appeal to fans of weird fiction. (Nov.)