Do you like short fiction? Scary stories? Southern lit? The joy of lovely small press books? Even if it is a trade paperback and not a lush Limited Editions Club slipcased hardcover does not prevent SOUTHERN HAUNTS PART 2: DEVILS IN THE DARKNESS from charming you with its indie press beauty. The book is a quality publication, more than just a basic print-on-demand trade paperback (not that I’m dissing those, I have plenty of them and plan to publish my own stuff that way). The paper has got a sheen to it. The illustrations, one at the start of each story, are all evocative and marvelous. The cover art is, well, devilishly good. And the most important aspect, the writing, is such that it deserves a quality presentation. Numerous authors from various corners of the South bring together their eerie visions of horror south of the Mason-Dixon Line. You will meet demons and hellhounds and cursed objects and more. Some tales explore familiar paths, albeit with the unique voices of their respective authors. Others take the path less traveled and give us a fresh twist on old devils. Phillip Drayer Duncan, one of my favorite indie authors, penned the sly and surprising “The Misconception About Demons,” in which a motley crew of spiritual warriors – a priest, a forest-dwelling witch and an apparently regular joe – try to protect a man who has come under fire – literally, gunshots ring out – from the followers of a particularly onerous demon. The only way to get to the bottom of this is for the group to return to the secret place of a demon, long ago imprisoned by this very group. Where and how the demon is imprisoned is genius and I wouldn’t dare give it away. Nor would I dream of unveiling the startling denouement. “The Blackberry Man” by Diane Ward is a singular vision that mingles botanical horror, psychedelic visions and terror from beyond (where?). It’s both fantastical and down to earth, a quiet tale of brooding, encroaching horror. You’ll never see berries the same way again. “Beleth” by Roman Merry is an unsettling story about what happens when you bring home the wrong item from a small town junk shop. Incorporating many elements of the haunted house tale but with a demonic twist, this one lobs first innocuous manifestations, then increasingly ugly ones. The bit with the nasty, blood-engorged bugs of all varieties is a highlight. This one two has an ending that sort of ends how you might have expected (sort of) but gets there by a surprising route. “What Goes Around” by Herika R. Raymer is the curious tale of a young woman and her two older male mentors (one a bit older, the other much older), good men but masters of the dark arts. The main character, a skeptical girl who has spent her life challenging religious assumptions, is learning from her mentors that God works in mysterious ways but maybe not how the preachers say. She is also being lured into a cult of witches without her best interests in mind. The dark-edged Christianity practiced by the men is truly compelling and highlights the story’s theme of spiritual iconoclasm. The story of supernatural good versus evil is compelling in its own right. These are just a few of the stories housed in this volume. I suggest you read the first few sentences of this review and if any of those sentences spark your fancy, then get this book.
More reviews available at bookdevil.tumblr.com
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.