Sublime Horror

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Category: Reviews (page 2 of 6)

A Devil Comes to Town by Paolo Maurensig review – a valuable addition to the Satanic lexicon

The teller of A Devil Comes to Town won’t tell us the real location of his tale, only that it is in a small Swiss town, famous because Goethe slept there for one night. Given the fictional name Dichtersruhe, (poet’s repose), it is a town full of unpublished writers, all working on their precious manuscripts and gracefully accepting rejection after rejection, while carefully concealed resentment boils within. When the devil arrives, claiming to be a successful publisher from Lucerne, looking for an author to win the newly set up Goethe literary prize, the town is swept up in the chaotic power plays that inevitably ensue. 

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Mayhem & Death by Helen McClory review – soul expanding terror

“Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them […] and where lies the great difference between horror and terror but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreaded evil?”

Ann Radcliffe wrote these words in her essay On The Supernatural In Poetry, published posthumously in 1826. She then goes on to clarify:

“Obscurity leaves something for the imagination to exaggerate; confusion, by blurring one image into another, leaves only a chaos in which the mind can find nothing to be magnificent, nothing to nourish its fears or doubts, or to act upon in any way.”

For Radcliffe, this blurring of horror means that it can never teach or improve the recipient of that horror, only “freeze and nearly annihilate them”. Horror becomes for her a denial of and turning away from the sublime. Terror, on the other hand, is the effect of staring clearly into the glare of the sublime, of suffering through an experience that “expands” us and fundamentally changes how we live.

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The Last to See Me by M. Dressler review

Anyone who loves a good ghost story will tell you that we are haunted by the past. But what if the past sought to reach out, to make itself heard, to remind us that it – that those who populated that space – were as real and vibrant as you and I are now? 

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Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay review – a truly unsettling brand of horror

Growing Things is a short story collection by Paul Tremblay, the 2018 recipient of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a Novel for his Cabin at the End of the World. Each of the nineteen stories within this collection provides the reader with a gripping picture of terror, each unique and separate from the other pieces within its horrifying menagerie. That being said, one story, “Notes from the Dog Walkers” works well to tether each of the stories together through its construction of the Tremblay Universe.

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Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan review – a masterful collection of the weird and eerie

We readers of what’s broadly labelled horror fiction have seen it all. We know a creak on the stair means trouble, that a glint of metal in a darkened doorway isn’t going to end well. To keep us on our toes, to have us constantly guessing at what’s about to happen, whether we are even being told the truth, is a skill, and one John Langan has in spades. Sefira and Other Betrayals is a masterful collection of the weird and eerie; seven visions of personal hells, peppered with some perfectly crafted killer lines. 

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