Monday, January 28, 2013

Remember Why You Fear Me (Chizine) by Robert Shearman

Lions and tigers and bears?  Hell, no!

What’s really interesting about this exemplary collection from Robert Shearman is that most of the stories begin with fairly mundane events.  For example, in “George Clooney’s Mustache,” a woman has been kidnapped, and what appears to be the Stockholm’s Syndrome that follows isn’t quite what it initially appears to be.  This story is probably my favorite in the book.

“Clown Envy” turns bragging about Dad’s occupation on its ear.

“Roadkill” beings with something as run-of-the-mill as a tawdry office dalliance, but picks up a monster along the way.

“Custard Creams” explores the end of a relationship and how the abuser triumphs and continues the cycle of abuse—but in such a horrifying way that the reader has heartfelt sympathy he wouldn’t normally feel for the second victim.

Shearman turns familiar events gradually and deftly upside down by introducing a bizarro twist in each tale; and it’s done so seamlessly that they make complete sense in a crazy sort of way, causing the reader to mutter, “Hey, wait a minute!” after he is taken in by it.  In a few of these stories, Shearman plays a dark joke on us and we fall for it, time after time.

Not that this book is funny, although there are a few stories that are most definitely blackly humorous. Other stories--many, as a matter of fact--are filled with world-weariness and a sort of shuffling sadness that makes his characters seem subtly noble and worthy of our affection—Quixote-esque in many ways, and just “off” enough to be truly creepy.  But Shearman’s work, most of all, is intelligent.  And that’s why it is so effective.   His stories are carefully constructed using a blend of sophistication and gentle wit that will keep readers coming back; and are full to the brim with tightly expressed ideas, attitudes, and feelings without ever being pompous or maudlin.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to write too much and spoil these stories for anyone.  These are all standouts and you’ll want to read them more than once.  I did, and enjoyed them even better the second time around.

buy it here.

Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

Carson Buckingham is a writer living in the great American Southwest and she reviews horror/paranormal suspense novels. Stop by to view her scriblins.

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