Dreams Of Shadow And Smoke Stories for JS Le Fanu Ed. Jim Rockhill & Brian J Showers. Book review

DREAMS OF SHADOW AND SMOKE Stories for JS Le Fanu, Edited by Jim Rockhill & Brian J Showers, Swan River Press 2014

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

In celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of the famous and seminal  Irish author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the distinguished Irish small imprint Swan River Press has published an anthology of new dark  tales  inspired to the work and the atmospheres of the great writer.

The volume, co-edited by Jim Rockhill &  Brian J Showers includes ten stories penned  by  the likes of  Angela Slatter, Derek John, Brian J Showers, Emma Darwin and Peter Bell. The contributors I named, alas, are the ones who, despite their recognized ability as dark fiction authors (incidentally , Slatter and Bell are among my favourite writers) have provided, in my opinion, the weaker tales.

Thus, looking forward to new and better material from the above authors, let me mention, instead the remaining outstanding pieces, that I’ve found quite enjoyable and  fascinating in the extreme.

MarK Valentine’s “Seaweed Tea” is a deliciously disturbing tale where dark, unfathomable tides wash the shores of our world, while “Echoes” by Martin Hayes is the chilling portrait of a pedophile, a loner with an evil soul, whose dues in the end will be paid in full.

The notorious “Madam’s Crowe’s Ghost” by J Sheridan Le Fanu  offers the inspiration to his descendant Sarah Le Fanu for “Alicia Harker’s Story”, a classical ghostly tale told in a steady, enticing narrative style.

In Linda E  Rucker’s “The Corner Lot”, a haunted house and a troubled psyche make a terrible combination apt to deeply unsettle the reader.

Finally “Rite of Possession” by Gavin Selerie is a delightful, traditional ghost story told in a very elegant style which will please any lover of well written fiction.

The gorgeously produced  book is yet another little gem from an excellent, invaluable publisher.