THE HEART IS A MIRROR FOR SINNERS And Other Stories by Angela Slatter
PS Publishing, hb, £25.00
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Arguably one of the very best female authors in the field of dark fantasy, Australian writer Angela Slatter returns ,much to the joy of her countless followers, with a new collection assembling thirteen stories and one novella, previously appeared in various anthologies and magazines.
The book confirms Slatter’s uncanny storytelling ability and her perceptive, vivid capacity of probing daily reality, revealing the unexpected horrors lurking behind the surface.
Fine examples are “Tin Soldier” a great dystopian story set in a future world where wars are carried out by using soldiers whose damaged bodies are recycled and reconstructed by smart scientists, “Neither Time nor Tears”, a magnificent tale retrieving family tragedies from a long gone past with a gentle touch but a firm narrative style, and “The Little Mermaid, in Passing”, a dark fairy tale featuring two sister mermaids dealing with an undesirable legacy.
“Change Management” is an excellent piece portraying a lonesome Royal Mail employee who suddenly finds the courage to win her own inhibitions and face life’s challenges, while “No Good Deed” ( aka “A Song of Dust”) is a very sinister fable featuring a young, innocent bride and a wicked,greedy husband.
In the Lovecraftian “Lavinia’s Wood” a weird young woman manages to get pregnant to secure a new human incarnation to a powerful inhuman entity.
“Ripper” is a wonderful novella cleverly revisiting the Jack the Ripper mystery. A bit implausible,is so enjoyable and well written that the reader willingly concedes a total suspension of disbelief.
My favourite tale in the book is “But for an L”, a superb story confirming once again Slatter’s superior quality as a storyteller. To avoid spoilers I will simply tell that it starts out as a sort of mystery with reminescences of Bluebeard, ending up on an entirely different note.