THE GHOST SEQUENCES by AC Wise
Undertow Publications, ebook, £4.99
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
It’s not easy to read (and review) this new collection by AC Wise, not only because the quality of the included material is rather uneven, but because in various circumstances, the author seems to purposely avoid a straightforward narrative style, preferring to jump back and forth in terms of time and space and to mix reality and imagination.
A typical example is “The Nag Bride”, a spellbinding novelette where it’s not always clear what’s actually going on, so you may have the feeling that you’re missing something. The same applies to the title story “The Ghost Sequences”, which is a complex piece about an art exhibition created by four artists, where personal ghosts and past traumas dramatically resurface.
But never fear. When she wants, Wise can have mercy on the everyday readers by writing clearly and simply, and she does that wonderfully.
The offbeat “ How the Trick is Done” revolves around a Magician’s show where death is kept at bay, but revenge will finally prevail, while the intriguing “ I Dress My Lover in Yellow” is about a woman’s portrait and the secrets hidden behind it.
To me, the two highlights of the book are: “ The Last Sailing of the Henry Charles Morgan in Six Pieces of Scrimshaw ( 1841)” a superb tale told by means of a series of scrimshaws, carvings on a piece of bone or ivory, describing the grim fate of a vessel visited by a mysterious, malevolent sea creature, and the outstanding “ Exhalation #10” features a man endowed with powerful hearing ability, who is helping the policeman, he secretly loves, to trace a dangerous serial killer.
While not every story worked for me, I am looking forward to new stories by Wise and hoping she will make things easier for her admirers (myself included).