Author: Lydia Roberson
Publisher: Lydia Roberson
Point of Sale: Amazon
This is a fine piece of psychological horror. If you are looking for monsters, you won’t find any here, unless you are willing to face the monster within yourself. If you are seeking a house that eats people, well, you have found it, but not in the cliché conventional “Burnt Offerings” sort of way, as the house is barely mentioned; it could be anyone’s house, no one’s house, as it is present yet detached from the stories. It is the house within our minds, a metaphor for our subconscious, and the author intended it that way. Nevertheless, these stories are all quite original in theme, and that is what made this book stand out to me:
We have all had poison ivy or chicken pox maybe; we know how it feels to suffer and want to “slither out of our own skin.” But what if the poison was not from an external source but an internal one, and imagine if you knew it was going to kill you, and there was nothing left to do but watch -- watch yourself slip away -- literary! How cold and haunting it is to be loved and yet not be capable of love. How far would we go to find the perfect mate, a partner who understands and shares our darkness…very far indeed, to the depths of hell and beyond for the perfect ghoulish romance -- how many one night stands does it take? When the world has raped our souls, what creatures are birthed out of the darkness? And doing battle with the beast of obsessive-co-dependent love will only leave you slashed to bits, and doing battle with guilt will haunt you to the end of your days. These are but a few of the tales in this book. The second half of the book is a collection of stream-of-consciousness musings and poems focused on the narrator’s vigilant attempt to discover how the evil seeped into the house in the first place, and how it has spread from the walls into her, or is it the other way around?
Stylistically, these stories delve deep into the blackest pit of base human emotions: anger, hatred, guilt, self-loathing, and bitterness -- uncontrolled need turned to savage hunger. These stories are so beautiful crafted in theme, the outskirts of the lunatic fringe in that they offer us a unique way to ponder our most intense emotional conflicts. Faced with our own oftentimes demonic emotions, what are we to do? In this case, we have a conduit, the ever-present yet mysteriously obscure house, which always seems to know what we need -- whispering promises to us in the dark. Is it an evil house...after reading this book, I am not so sure evil would be the appropriate word. All in all, I absolutely loved the idea behind these extraordinarily thought-provoking stories, but...
Numerous grammatical and sentence structure issues aside, my only other critical comment is the lack of imaginative prose -- quite a bit more tell than show was apparent here. The author mentioned to me that she did not describe the house in too much detail, as she wanted to give the readers the opportunity to visualize it for themselves. Not all readers like to do this. Even so, I was perfectly fine with that...but, I think language that is more elaborate would have set these stories far apart from many others I have read. Young adult readers will love it; it’s very Goose-bumpish in writing style, which completely contradicts the maturity of the themes; such mature subject matter loses its power under the constraints of basic prose; the stories seemed diminished of their greatness. I wished the short stories read with the same passion contained within the poetry. That taken into account, I think more mature and seasoned Horror fiction readers might want a little more edginess to the prose, and a lot more editing done on the frightfully flawed text.
I hope to read more from this author as her writing style grows and improves. Her dance with the macabre is not your standard cliché tango with a scythe-bearing reaper. Her tales are truly insightful and adult themed, and that’s what differentiates good horror from the rest. This is good Horror!
Reviewed by Cheryl Anne Gardner: Cheryl Anne Gardner, author of four novellas, is an Executive Assistant by day, an avid reader, and an independent reviewer with Podpeople.blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.