Holidays from Hell by Reggie Oliver. Book review

HOLIDAYS FROM HELL by Reggie Oliver, Tartarus Press 2017

Review by Mario Guslandi

The seventh collection of Reggie Oliver ( a renowned playwright and actor, as well as an extraordinary writer) confirms once again his exceptional talent as one the very best living authors of dark fiction. Not only he’s a superb storyteller, but also, due to his professional background, a man of culture and refined taste, which adds further to the pleasure of reading his work.

Presented in the elegant hardcover format of Tartarus Press, the book collects thirteen stories previously appeared in different genre anthologies, plus a new, original tale .
“The Silken Drum” is a splendid,quite disturbing piece featuring an ambiguous and lethal Japanese female creature, while “The Rooms Are High” is a wonderful example of quiet horror, imbued with elegant eroticism, about a widower vacationing in a seaside small town and taking lodgings in a very unusual house.

“Love at Second Sight” is a fine ghostly tale about wasted love and things left behind; “Rapture” a clever piece addressing the issue of religious fanaticism merging with the paranormal; “Holiday from Hell” an Aickmanesque, disquieting story describing the experience of a young man staying in a cheap hotel where the only other guests are weird oldies.

In the outstanding “The Maze at Huntsmere” a labyrinth in a country estate becomes the venue of very dark events, turning a comedy into tragedy. The spellbinding “Absalom”, a ghost story with a distinctive Jamesian raste, portrays the brief life of a depraved baronet, while “The Green Hour”, an intriguing mystery set at the time of the Paris Exposition of 1867 ,reports a new investigation by Poe’s detective Auguste Dupin.

“The Druid’s Rest” is a frightening tale of terror where two girls biking in Wales get shelter from the rain in a disreputable inn and “Trouble at Botathan” an atmospheric piece unearthing dark secrets from the past connected with a woody area in Cornwall.
In the riveting psychological mystery ” The Prince of Darkness” a man discovers the secrets of his deceased uncle, a photographer with a very dark soul.

In conclusion, a wonderful , enticing collection of great stories, apt to prove once again what an
incredibly deep pleasure reading can be.