Review copy provided courtesy of the author
A collection of sixteen tales of dark fiction.
I had the opportunity to read and review Guignard’s novel DOORWAYS TO THE DEADEYE last year, and found it absolutely delightful, so when he offered more books to review I jumped at the chance! I’m to embarrassed to admit how much time has actually passed between then and now, but finally reading this short story collection felt like finally reuniting with a dear friend after much too long.
There were no stories that felt like “the clunker”, but there were a few stories that connected with me personally more than some others. Overall it’s quite an even collection, so my preferences are only a matter of personal taste, not a matter of quality!
The collection opens with A Case Study in Natural Selection as it Applies to Love which takes place in a very near future where climate change and an epidemic of spontaneous combustion is pushing humanity to the brink of extinction, and at the time of this review in particular feels too close for comfort. The focus on how it affects a young boy on a personal level keeps the social commentary from feeling too overbearing, and the message of hope and love even in the darkest of times avoids coming off as corny or saccharine—in fact, highlighting the fact that it’s a constant battle to be fought really started the collection with a bang.
Footprints Fading in the Desert is a superb ghost story following a woman who survives a plane crash in the middle of the desert, and is found by the most unlikely savior. This was completely unexpected and unique, and possibly my favorite of the lot, so the less said the better!
Last Night... is like an atmospheric twist on I AM LEGEND, in Canada, with werewolves, and it’s ever bit as wonderful as it sounds. A few of the stories in the collection felt like retellings of classic stories/fairytales, and this one really stood out for me.
Finally, the closing story, Dreams of a Little Suicide, we’re all familiar of the urban legend about the scene in The Wizard of Oz where supposedly one of the munchkin actor’s committed suicide on set? Here Guignard tells his story, making him so much more than an anonymous shadow hanging from a tree in the background, but a man in love, a man obsessed, and it’s an incredibly strange—and strong—closing to the collection.
It always feels a bit rude to compare one author (or book) to another too closely, especially when it’s the kind of name I’m about to drop, but the influence is impossible to deny, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing (quite the opposite in fact). Just like with DOORWAYS TO THE DEADEYE, I couldn’t stop feeling the presence of Stephen King, but really, what modern author of horror or dark fiction could escape at least some of his influence? Guignard’s writing isn’t derivative, or mimicry, but I think readers who love King’s work NEED to have Guignard on their radar (and readers who wish King’s work was more focused and restrained? Here’s an author for you!) I think I can officially say I have a new go to author when I need some dark comfort reading!