April found me reading a lot of horror and weird fiction. There wasn’t as much that grabbed me as last month’s offerings but I didn’t have any problem putting together this list of recommendations.
- Ghoulbird by Claude Seignolle (Weird Fiction Review) Translated by Gio Clairval. A visitor to a country manor learns of the horror of the ghoulbird, ultimately succumbing to its enslaving cry. The atmosphere here is what sells the story. By the final chapters I felt myself bracing for the echo of that awful, soul-rending cry.
- Postcards from Monster Island by Emily Devenport (Clarkesworld) Adorable kaiju story of NYC becoming a nature preserve for giant lizard lemurs. Another example of what Clarkesworld does so well, introducing and fully developing ideas that might take another author books to achieve.
- Spring Thaw by Charles Payseur ( Nightmare). Creepy multilevel story about a man who makes a dreadful discovery in the melting wastes of Antartica. While this story contains echoes of Lovecraft it strikes out in its own direction. Life is a trek across ice you suspect already rotten, containing appalling wonders.
- Faith by Chris Tissell. (Daily Science Fiction) the mark of a great story is that it develops an entire world in a very few words and then brings you to a conclusion that surprises you even as you knew how it was going to end all along. A very hopeful look at a topic very grim - prediction.
- The Other End of the Lake by Dara Marquardt (Acidic Fiction) Ghosts should be more than simply a device for jump-scares. A ghost stands for something that remains: the reminder of mortality but also the persistence of evil acts. The hallucinatory narrative of a ghost haunting a sociopathic child reminded me of Ramsay Campbell.
Finally I’d like to direct your attention to a great and terrifying story over at Pseudopod, an online collection of podcasts devoted to horror and weird fiction. Last month Jon Padgett read his work, “Twenty Steps to Ventriloquism,” a Thomas Ligotti inspired instructional pamphlet on how to become an “ultimate” ventriloquist. Without giving too much away, Padgett cleverly turns us away from the “mere trifle” of the ventriloquist dummy to the troubling implications of being a puppet master in a universe devoid of free will. This work appeared first in the “Grimscribe’s Puppets" anthology edited by Joseph Pulver, but Padgett’s voice combined with subtle audio effects brings a new level of agitation and horror.