Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Anne-Sylvie Salzman (aka Anne-Sylvie Homassel) is a French writer and translator ,and the co-editor of the supernatural literary magazine Le Visage Vert. Sheâ€™s the author of two novels and a short story collection (Lamont). Her first appearances in English have been in the Strange Stories anthologies published byÂ Tartarus Press, which has now collected fifteen of her tales, translated from French by William Charlton.
Salzman displays a vivid imagination, a knack for the weird and the fantastic, and a very elegant prose. Obviously itâ€™s not easy to ascertain how much the musical phrasing and the exquisite wording belong to the writer and how much to the excellent translation.
Whatever the truth, the book is an enticing collection as forÂ the Â narrative style, although the stories are not always fully accomplished in terms of plot and characters, now and then remaining (intentionally or unintentionally) Â a bit blurred.
To me, among Â the best stories are “Meannanaich”Â a gentle, sad fairy tale about a dead child and her lonely father, and â€œThe Openingâ€, an Aickmanesque, enigmatic piece taking place on a beach crowded by people and dogs, where reality has an odd ambiguity.
The highlights of the volume are two really outstanding stories.
â€œChild of Evil Starsâ€ is a splendid piece , graced by an eerie, unsettling atmosphere, depicting the tragic obsession of a respected lung specialist for a freak, one-eyed girl exhibited in a circus.
â€œLamontâ€ is a spellbinding, cryptic tale of love and obsession where an elusive girl becomes an inner ghost affecting a lonesome young man.
In spite of the uneven quality of the tales, the present collection represents a very interesting showcase for an author endowed with an enormous talent who shall certainly provide more mature and consistent work in the near future.