Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
If you’re not familiar with Robert Shearman’s fictional work ,then let me tell you that you’ve been missing one of the most talented fantasist in the area of dark fiction.
His most recent collection, published by the excellent Canadian small imprint ChiZine Publications, confirms once again the exceptional quality of his stories. The volume assembles twenty-four weird tales ranging from horror to surrealism, the common feature being a sort of distorted ( or insightful?) vision of everyday reality. While the less accomplished among the stories are “simply” good, most of them are outstanding both in terms of imaginative power and of narrative ability.
A typical example is “Luxembourg” ,a delicious tale probing the essence of human relationships within the frame of a surrealistic plot.
“Peckish” is a particularly sinister version of the already dark fable “Hansel and Gretel”, while “Page Turner” is a delicate fairy tale where a pianist’s true love survives sickness and death in the name of music and “Memories of Craving Long Gone” a delightful yarn about the power of food.
In the perceptive “A Grand Day Out” a man is given back his dead wife alive and young again for just one day and in the poignant “Dumb Lucy” the various aspects of magic (its power, its loneliness and its sad but exciting nature) are masterly addressed.
“Brand New,Shiny Shiny” is yet another surrealistic piece revolving around the strange story of a skull acquired at an auction, while the offbeat and disturbing ” That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” is the portrait of an odd marriage in which dolls play a pivotal role.
Among so many excellent stories it’s hard to mention some favourite, but I will.
“Restoration” is a spellbinding ride across the centuries by two people whose task is to preserve the art and history of the single years under the silent supervision of a mysterious Curator; “It Flows from the Mouth” is a terrific piece about a strange friendship surviving beyond life, disclosing some of the little mysteries of human existence; “The Sixteenth Step” is a superb, melancoly tale about love and the lack of it, and the hidden,paranormal stuff behind our ordinary life.
A splendid collection, highly recommended.