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At the edge of reality, the edge of sanity, things get darker, grimmer and a little bit strange. This is a collection of such tales from a selection of New Zealand and Australian authors. Beautifully, lyrically written, these are not stories for the faint of heart. From the realistic to the surrealistic, within these pages you’ll find a mix of horror, science fiction, dystopia, post-apocalyptic; stories to keep you reading far into the night, stories to haunt your dreams.
Here are a few of the stand-out tales, in my opinion:
‘Hood of Bone,’ by Debbie Cowens, is a tale that borders the realms between reality and horror, and sent shivers down my spine. Decidedly unsettling; a women drags her dog away from a rotting fish and is confronted by a madman. But is it merely dementia, or something far more horrifying?
We also have ‘Crossing,’ by Anthony Panegyres, a ghost story with a difference. Poignant, bittersweet and something of a lesson in letting go of the past, it tells of Jane Self, separated by a cruel twist of fate from her husband and desperately seeking closure.
The lines between reality and unreality become very blurred in ‘Narco,’
by Michelle Child. A woman is unable to stay awake on a train through the night. What is real and what is a dream? What happens when awake and asleep blur into one? This is a chilling short story that will make you think twice before travelling alone.
Although still quite brutal, there is dark humour in ‘Street Furniture,’ by Joanne Anderton. Have you ever wondered why furniture gets left out on the street? Well, goblins are real, and they can grant wishes – particularly those requiring unpleasantness – if paid accordingly. Wishes, such as the removal of an unpleasant step-father. But such debts are not to be taken lightly…
‘Call of the Sea’ by Eileen Mueller is beautiful and tragic. Reality and surreality merge in this tale of loss, as a child is snatched away by the ocean. Heart-breaking, haunting and eloquently written.
The odd, but engaging, ‘Responsibility,’ by Octavia Cade is the tale of two sisters – one who brings life and one who brings death. What happens when the life-sister must look after her death-sister’s house and collection of zombie critters? With all the bleakness and tragedy, it’s nice to have something that feels a little lighter, even if there are still shadows of decay creeping around the edges.
This is a well-compiled collection of memorable tales, and well worth the read for anyone who enjoys the many facets of speculative fiction and likes their stories dark and, yes, edgy.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
At the Edge
Edited by Lee Murray & Dan Rabarts
Published by Paper Road Press