Queen Joanna by Kate Danley is a short horror story full of suspense and drama, with a touch of the supernatural. Both Joanna and King Stephen are tormented by the darkness looming over their arranged marriage. I am impressed with how well-developed the characters are. Danley's writing style is best described as a blend of Phillipa Gregory and Bram Stoker. I'm definitely interested in reading more from this author.
I've read horror stories for so many years, I've noticed a pattern among the frightening creatures and evil objects in fiction. Not only have I noticed common themes rise and fall in popularity, but I've also observed authors seizing classic elements and twisting them into their own disturbing visions, much like mad scientists spawning monstrous new life in their towers and dungeons.
There have been the changes between traditional monsters: vampires, werewolves and zombies, all vying to be the top threat, but, thanks to modern day authors, vampires can walk in daylight, werewolves can control their shape-shifting and zombies can have relationships with the living. An unfortunate side effect to these changes has been a softening of these monsters' images, such as glittering vampires, teen werewolves playing sports and zombie comedies.
With this domestication of the big three, it's not surprising that other monsters rose up to take their rightful place in modern horror: Bigfoot, Cthulhu and Pennywise, just to name a few. Soon the monsters gave way to evil objects, often possessed: cars, dolls and mirrors...again, just the tip of the deadly iceberg.
Of course, literature moves in waves and cycles, and, thanks to the creative sick minds of horror authors, even when a familiar theme returns, it's usually more disturbing than the last encounter with readers...which is what makes horror my favorite genre.