Shadow Publishing, p/b, Â£10.99, LINK
Reviewed by Phil Sloman
Eddy Bertin is an author who has been around for over forty years but I suspect many will not have heard of him. Born in Germany but raised in Belgium, Eddy has published stories in a whole host of languages across a number of anthologies. The Whispering Horror provides us with a collection of fourteen of his short tales of terror, published over the decades in varying forms, set to terrify us from the shadows.
In the foreword, we are told Bertin is a Lovecraft devotee and this can be seen by his excellent grasp of language and the way he pulls us right in to the horrors which await. Bertinâ€™s stories are set to make you think, to niggle away at your mind as you are drawn into the psychologically flawed minds of his characters. Others are hard hitting doses of the unsavoury which will split audiences.
Ten, the story of a twenty something babysitter is a chilling tale showing the full extent to which a disgruntled ex-student will go to have revenge on his tutor. The conclusion is something which will sit with me for a long while. Composed of Cobwebs, which opens the collection, is a tale of unrequited love and mental breakdown which descends all too readily into madness.
Dunwich Dreams, Dunwich Screams wasnâ€™t for me. Set in Dunwich, seeking to inform the origins of Lovecraftâ€™s tales, there was far too much head nodding to his Weird Tales and the writing style which had captivated me in earlier pieces in the anthology seemed to have vanished here. Had this been the opener, I dare say I would have given up on the collection from the start. The same could be said of A Taste of Rain and Darkness which, whilst well written in form, felt dated (it was published in 1970) and uncomfortable, as a man stalks a young woman for reasons to be revealed at the end. Belindaâ€™s Coming Home, another uncomfortable read, has subject matter which will likely be too controversial for some.
However, whilst there are stories which were not for this reviewer, there was lots more to like. A Whisper of Leathery Wings is a cleverly worked tale of revenge gone wrong, a cautionary look at how things are not always what they seem. Like Two White Spiders reminded me in part of Barkerâ€™s The Body Politic and then I realised Bertin had penned this tale of malevolent hands beyond their ownerâ€™s control back in 1973. I Wonder What He Wanted is a fun little piece as a woman finds her dream home but loses something far more precious. The Whispering Horror and My Fingers Are Eating Me also deserve honourable mentions.
One of the lengthier, yet best, pieces was Something Small, Something Hungry, which plays out in the background of a circus with the death of a trapeze artiste. Part horror, part mystery, Bertin draws together a great cast of performers, outcasts and detectives alike as the â€˜Something Smallâ€™ reveals itself.
Overall, The Whispering Horror will appeal a certain type of reader, the one that likes the gothic and the twisted which no doubt is down, in part, to the Lovecraftian influences we see in some of the stories. The majority of tales really grabbed me, others tempted me to put the book aside. Pick it up, there will be something there for most readers of horror but some of the tales may fall flat for a few.