The Outcast and The Rite

Helen de Guerry Simpson. Handheld, $17.99 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-1-912766-60-4

The only volume of short fiction from Australian novelist Simpson (1897–1940), originally published in 1925, contains 13 supernatural stories that showcase Simpson’s lush, painterly descriptions of the natural world and her subtle, deeply intuitive sense of human relationships. “Grey Sand and White Sand” centers on painter Hilary Monk who, while enthralled with capturing a majestic landscape, contends with his strange, shifting relationship with his lover. A woman named Len traverses the forest of Parvus Holt and encounters an unexpected terror in “The Rite.” Miss Alquist, the ocean-loving protagonist of “The Pledge,” moves to a strange town once abutted by the sea but long since abandoned by both the waters and the outside world. Simpson wonderfully contrasts the wild and the domestic, and her greatest strength lies in her ability to build a sense of rustic normalcy before letting a slice of the unusual disturb the course of life. Fans of Daphne du Maurier and early 20th-century supernatural fiction will love this forgotten treasure. (May)
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