Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wretched Moments

Edited by T. L. Perry and Jessy Marie Roberts
Published by Pill Hill Press

It is ironic that many of the images we encounter that most people consider cute can also be the most horrific. Dolls. Clowns. Cherubic kids with really big eyes. All of these symbols of innocence are also the subjects of our deepest fears. One of the things that dark fiction does best is to take these pastel shapes and cast them into shadow. So naturally a collection of stories taking on the worldview of a certain notorious set of precious figurines would be a premise so brilliant as to be obvious. Wretched Moments, a new anthology from Pill Hill press, sets out to celebrate “the worst of times” by turning the maudlin to the macabre, and, with some exceptions, gets it right.

The collection is comprised of a solid set of twenty-two stories covering a pretty wide range of material. Stylistically the stories run the gamut from the elegant and literary (“Woman on the Horse” by Brian Ray) to the downright weird (“Resigned” by Scott Lininger). The editors seem to have gone for a wide spread, hoping to cover most tastes. As with most anthologies, some material works better than others. Particularly noteworthy are “Before the Bogeymen Come” by Kris Triana, the aforementioned “Woman on the Horse”, and the fiendishly macabre “Grannibal” by Eric Dimbleby.

Some of the stories follow the initial premise more subtly than others. For example, “Carly is Dead” by Shane McKenzie turns the classic Charlotte’s Web on its ear with a very bizarre twist. But too many of the entries are fine stories that don’t seem to really fit the theme. “When the Zombies Came” by Shane Collins is a fun tale of post-apocalyptic survival but it simply doesn’t subvert any of the sweet conventions implied by the collection’s premise. As a result, even with some very strong stories, Wretched Moments makes for very uneven read.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Shedrick Pittman-Hassett

Shedrick Pittman-Hassett is a full-time librarian and part-time writer trying to do that the other way around. He has written reviews for Library Journal and has also had two articles published in the award-winning Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. Shedrick currently resides in Denton, Texas ("The Home of Happiness") with his lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, he can be found in a pub enjoying a fine brew.

No comments: