Thursday, 5 October 2017

Macabre stories

Fortoday 's countdown to Halloween, some reading suggestion: the Gothic stories of Ray Russell, which I have never heard of until I found this book in the local bookshop. More "neo" Gothic than truly Gothic as they are late pastiches of the genre. If yesterday's suggestion was all about subtlety, this one is a spectacle of horror. There is blood, gore, torture, sadoeroticism and violence of all sorts, but the characters are not devoid of humanity. You will find only a hint of supernatural, but the plots are so bizarre and horrific that they remain unsettling and they are perfect for Halloween. There is also a bit of sly humour that never falls into downright parody. And there is plenty to love: a man whose face is paralyzed into a disgusting grin, the possible bastard son of Jekyll/Hyde, countess Elizabeth Bathory... And I miss some: Russell is eager to cram as many Gothic commonplaces as he can, whether historical or literary. This is your macabre read for the season.

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