cover image While the Black Stars Burn

While the Black Stars Burn

Lucy A. Snyder. Raw Dog Screaming (, $13.95 trade paper (164p) ISBN 978-1-935738-77-0

Malevolent lineages and emotionally fraught familial relationships propel the plots of most of the 13 genre-spanning stories in Snyder’s strong collection. In “Approaching Lavender,” a woman paints a self-portrait according to her needy husband’s instructions and finds that she has created a doppelganger who threatens her existence. In the diptych formed by “The Abomination of Fensmere” and “The Girl with the Star-Stained Soul,” a young girl who visits her long-estranged family on her mother’s side is appalled to learn that she’s being groomed as a conduit for the liberation of Lovecraftian horrors. The title tale concerns a violinist who discovers that the sonatas written for her by her abusive father are tools for trapping her in a nightmarish otherworld. Snyder (Soft Apocalypses) excels in her depictions of characters struggling desperately—and often futilely—to extricate themselves from terrifying snares set by loved ones. Readers will find her stories a cut above most other tales of interpersonal and supernatural horror. (Nov.)