Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Nothing is certain in our life. Things are not always what they seem. A subtle thread of uncertainty and unease is continuously crossing our existence. Some writers (Robert Aickman is possibly the best example) have efficaciously addressed this feeling in their literary work.
Editor/publisher/ writer Brian J Showers has assembled a mega-anthology of brand new stories, penned by Irish, British and American authors, devoted to this topic. The anthology is split in two volumes which can be separately purchased.
Volume 1 of Uncertainties assemble eleven stories of fairly good quality.
Among the various contributions I especially enjoyed Robert Neilson’s “On a Clear Day”, a delicate, beautiful tale imbued with lyricism , wonderfully depicting the character of a loner, “Fran’s Nan’s Story” by Sarah LeFanu a nice, ghost story set in the world of farmers and shepherds, revolving around the disappearance of a faithful dog, and “The Séance”, by Linda E Rucker, the affectionate portrait of a woman artist, a painter endowed with an obscure complex personality somehow surviving also beyond the grave.
Volume 2, including fourteen tales, in my opinion, is a collection of top notch stories, the quality of which is definitely superior.
Peter Bell’s “The Swing” is a fine example of the author’s ability to build up tension and disquiet from little things, in this case a blurred photo, the true, scary meaning of which will become clear only years later.
RB Russel’s very enjoyable “The Mighty Mr Godbolt” is a slightly surrealistic piece with a nasty ending, taking place during a peculiar train ride.
Melancholy and nostalgia set the atmosphere in Emma Darwin’s “Closing Time”, a perceptive tale disclosing secrets of the London Underground dating back to WW2, while Reggie Oliver’s insightful “Love at Second Sight” is a ghostly tale about wasted love and things left behind and Mark Samuel’s distressing “The Court of Midnight” the report of the fatal consequences of a mysterious disease infecting the soul, haunting the dreams and wasting the body.
The volume includes two outstanding masterpieces : “The Ice Beneath Us” by Steve Duffy, a chilling piece set in a cabin by a deserted lake where two friends are ice-fishing and recalling a frightening, horrible episode of the past and “The Edge of the World” by Helen Grant, an unsettling story of cosmic horror brought about by apparently trivial matters such as a disappointing relationship and the retrieval of puzzling archeological artifacts.