Review: Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8 Edited by Michael Kelly | More2Read
 

Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8 Edited by Michael Kelly



Praise For Shadows & Tall Trees:

“Shadows & Tall Trees is a smart, soulful, illuminating investigation of the many forms and tactics available to those writers involved in one of our moment’s most interesting and necessary projects, that of opening up horror literature to every sort of formal interrogation. It is a beautiful and courageous series.”
-Peter Straub

“Shadows & Tall Trees epitomizes the idea of and is the most consistent venue for weird, usually dark fiction. Well worth your time.”
-Ellen Datlow


 

Purchase Direct from Publisher Undertow Publications

 


Stories Contained:

Alison Littlewood – Hungry Ghosts

Brian Evenson – The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell

Carly Holmes – Tattletale

Charles Wilkinson – A Coastal Quest

C.M. Muller – Camera Obscura

James Everington – The Sound of the Sea, Too Close

Kay Chronister – Too Lonely, Too Wild

KL Pereira – You, Girls Without Hands

Kristi DeMeester – The Quiet Forms of Belonging

Kurt Fawver – Workday

M. Rickert – The Fascist Has a Party

Neil Williamson – Down to the Roots

Rebecca Campbell – Child of Shower and Gleam

Seán Padraic Birnie – Dollface

Simon Strantzas – The Somnambulists

Steve Rasnic Tem – Sleepwalking With Angels

Steve Toase – Green Grows the Grief

V.H. Leslie – Lacuna


Review:

The uncanny and weird, there will be tales bewitching with maleficence, macabre and poet prose, tales within a prism of deciphering and ones with trepidation in a hypnotic tale, many with melancholy and haunting Intriguing seconds of entertainment.

The reviews for stories that worked for me:

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Evenson

It’s a place called Twin Peaks..Midsommar, no, but…“Why not? It would be a vacation, a chance to get out of the city.”

A strange lodge, an uncanny encounter into realms, dreams and zones, all the weird lucid tales of fiction Evenson is known for conjuring that may have you thinking about in your quiet moments.

“It began with Hekla’s sister, who had always been, so she liked to style herself, a seeker. There was a workshop she was dying to attend, with a guru of sorts, concerning attunement. But it took place some distance away, far outside the city. Would Hekla accompany her? It was a long way to go and she didn’t want to make the drive alone.
“Not really my thing,” said Hekla.
“I’ll pay your way,” said her sister.
“You’ll share my room and I’ll cover the workshop fee. It’s in a place called Verglas lodge, out in the middle of nowhere: birds, cows, trees, probably. Come on, it’ll be fun.”

Too Lonely, Too Wild by Kay Chronister

Bewitching, marriage, birth, and finding ones inheritance of maleficence, all in its own course of time carefully walking with new and old visitors into the night behind the prism of the White House with the unravelling of one woman’s complexities.

“I wanted to climb up into the hills and disappear from the eyes of everyone who knew I didn’t inherit Grammy’s witching power. And he wanted a wife. What did any man want?”

“The white house was shrinking, squeezing tight until I was pulp and dead broken seeds. I felt my head bumping the ceiling sometimes, my feet pushing through the floorboards into the foundation. The hallway was a crawlspace; the bedroom was a snake hole. Deep in the folds of my quilt, I wished to hibernate the winter through. I scarcely slept at all.”

Tattletale by Carly Holmes

Reader is juxtapositioned amongst scenes of the young and bullying of another with a tail, macabre poetic prose with a short potent tale.

“Tattletale, prattletale, nasty lying rattletail.”

“Don’t touch the tattletale, the twitching, scratching rattletail.”

“Look at the tattletale; that spike, that stab of rattletail. The whip of muscle in its rippled sleeve of skin birthing from her spine, arching over the cobbles of her back and then springing round.”

The Somnambulists by Simon Strantzas

A hotel inspection and experience with an encounter of the familiar and unfamiliar for Seymour one to be taken into the periphery of his senses with all weird and unusual of this unique hotel. Original storytelling with a protagonist in a prism and cycle of deciphering things.
Interesting story from an author i will be reading more works of in the future.

“Nothing about the Hotel Russo appealed to him. It felt impermanent; transient. There had been a gas station on this street corner a few days earlier. What happened to it, and how did the Russo get built so quickly? Seymour did not remember seeing permits or builders, and yet here it was, erected so swiftly it was a blur. Something about the place made his whole body tense. Some sense of familiarity he couldn’t put into words.”

The Quiet Forms of Belonging by Kristi DeMeester

Belongings and possessions, kin, sisters and father captive in a home by certain forces evoked with surreal gothic artistry.
A ballad of poetic telling of two sisters through transpiring ordeals and happenings within this original and memorable crafted vortex of a tale.

Now, she is only entropy. A chaos of veins and bone. Discolored flesh.”

“the walls were listening, holding their breath, and waiting for a single offering.”

Camera Obscura by C. M. Muller

Intriguing trepidation in a hypnotic tale with wonderful prose.
Location The Kolsrud place, the dilapidated, be there specter or some folklore, there is a man in his craft and art capturing them, transforming to black and white, new forms of art with something new an interloper.
A portrait photo, beauty or grotesque, one welcomed or unwelcomed.

“The mechanical whirr, strangely enough, seemed to belong to this environment. If he closed his eyes, Haugland could nearly convince himself he was listening to the hidden clockwork of the world.
Haugland plucked a length of tall grass and stuck it between his lips, savoring these final moments. Even now he imagined the details slowly mirroring themselves to the dry-plate: it was a composition of crisp black and white beauty that in many ways was more powerful than the original landscape itself. Film images had the potential of outliving their real-life counterparts, and digital photos were ephemeral. Haugland’s work would be preserved long after these farmhouses deteriorated and became dust. He supposed this was part of the reason he afforded the project with so much reverence.”

Sleepwalking with Angels by Steve Rasnic Tem

Melancholy abyss of waiting for an end for our main protagonists life, telling in his pains and haunting hours into the night, a potent lucid and unmissable worth, psychologically and emotional weighed, loneliness involved and death awaiting.

“A memory stands somewhere in the room waiting for your acknowledgement. For the longest time you’ve resisted looking, but this effort costs you more than you can say. Closing your eyes doesn’t help. That’s when the recollection burns the brightest.
You value your solitude. It’s impossible to be yourself around other people; you always find some role to play. You crave those moments when you’re missing, when no one is watching, where nothing you do is a mistake.
But you clench your teeth every time you go to bed alone. Falling asleep is like a dive into the abyss. Your adult children say they are worried about you. You could take care of things yourself if they would only give you time. For now, you sleep with your back to that side of the bed.”

“You haven’t told them how the bed creaks at night, how the mattress shifts, and the covers pull away. How every mysterious draft comes with a whisper attached. How someone on that other side has grown cold and needs your warmth.”

“Both the walls and your skin resemble old newspaper. But in every lustrous surface: a piece of silhouette, a hint of eye, the suggestion of a moving form. Some of these reflections are not yours. Walking through this house has become an exercise in disintegration. You grow weary of the flies and stink.”


 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 03 March 2020