THE SCARLET SOUL edited by Mark Valentine. Book review

THE SCARLET SOUL edited by Mark Valentine, The Swan River Press 2017

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Loosely inspired by Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray, this short story anthology features ten brand new tales, assembled by editor Mark Valentine, who also provides a learned
Introduction to the volume.
The contributors’ line-up includes Reggie Oliver, Caitriona Lally, Lynda E Rucker, John Howard, DP Watt, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Avalon Brantley, Timothy J Jarvis, John Gale, Derek John.
There is a great variety in the volume, in terms of subjects, narrative styles and location of the various stories, all of which are interesting enough and worth reading.
My personal favourite is by far “Love and Death”, an excellent story by Reggie Oliver, told in his usual, enticing storytelling style, about a painting bringing about destruction and death both to its model and to its painter.
Other superb stories are DP Watt’s “Doreen” – a cruel tale featuring a middle-aged wife and mother, whose quiet,boring life is suddenly disrupted by the return of a former friend ( and rival), now endowed with a lethal, unexpected power- and “The Yellow Book” by Timothy J Jarvis – an offbeat piece where things are puzzling and obscure, but the atmosphere is so spellbinding to make the tale deeply disquieting.
“This Is How It Will Be” penned by Caitriona Lally, is the insightful depiction of the relationship between a lonesome woman and an older,very opinionated man, while the atmospheric “Every Exquisite Thing” by Lynda E Rucker revolves around an elusive girl, appearing and disappearing in different European cities, much to the despair of his former boyfriend.
Derek John’s ” The Anatomy Lesson of Professor Stebbing” is a kind of medical SF story, very entertaining although not quite accomplished.

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