Monday, March 11, 2019

Split Into Something Else

A dual novella featuring ORPHEUS AND THE PEARL by Kim Paffenroth and NEVERMORE by David Dunwoody. Double the terror, double the fun!

In 1920 Massachusetts, Dr. Catherine MacGuire is mysteriously called to the home of the famous Dr. Wallston, to assist with some medical emergency that defies even his skill. The life-threatening problems she finds there have less to do with broken bodies than with warped souls, and it will take all of her skill as a healer to fix them.

NEVERMORE Malcolm Witt died in his sleep at 11:07 PM. Four minutes later his body rose and walked from the room. Malcolm watched it happen.

And so begins 24 hours of a life-after-death struggle to save his friends, forgive his love, and put himself to rest - body and soul.

ORPHEUS AND THE PEARL by Kim Paffenroth is a pleasant reminder of the psychological element the author brings to his horror stories. If I didn't know any better, I would think Paffenroth channeled both Freud (1919 essay, The Uncanny) and Jung (archetypes) while constructing his characters and their dilemma. Even Dr. MacGuire's reference to Greek tragedies struck a chord (Aristotle's Catharsis). You don't have to be familiar with any of these literary references to appreciate the anticipation of something tragic happening before the end of the story. However, Paffenroth delivers the most terrifying blow in the form a light whisper. Pay attention to the tiny details.

NEVERMORE by David Dunwoody is one of the best damn zombie stories I've ever read, and, yet, Dunwoody has created something much more than an undead tale. The author takes common motivators such as love, betrayal and revenge, mixes them with the supernatural and the result is a thriller worthy of the big screen.

Both stories are examples of the familiar becoming unfamiliar -- the heart of true horror, but the two are nothing alike. Paffenroth and Dunwoody use a similar element to show how human behavior can be predictable and unpredictable at the same time, while remaining original in their storytelling.

An excellent pairing!

As always,

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