I would never have thought of having my collection reviewed as horror. In fact, when Don D'Ammassa reviewed it last yearin the Horror section of his site, I was distressed, thinking that the people who might like it wouldn't find it here, and the people who like horror would be annoyed if they read my book.
Clayton Bye has given me a reason to consider differently. Although I don't write traditional horror, normally, some readers don't like or get my stories, and even consider them a downer in instances when I really don't. Why? Maybe Clayton is giving us a clue here. Maybe it makes sense to expand our own ideas of what our writing is, and who might appreciate it. One learned writer compared my stories to Jane Austen.
This baffled me. I write speculative fiction! But it is the style of the writing, the sensibility brought to the subjects under examination, that brings Austen to mind for her. So we are perhaps not always the best judges of who might like our work, or where we should be marketing it. An intriguing thought... Buy Now at Amazon
Casey Wolf submitted her book Finding Creatures & Other Stories to be reviewed on The Deepening World of Fiction’s horror blog. We both knew, in advance, the collection probably wouldn’t fit the horror genre. Yet Wolf’s stories dig at the soul in a sometimes dark and subtle way. Much of the fiction is also speculative, a type which lends itself well to horror.
There’s Aggie’s Game, a disturbing look at a child’s battle with the grim reality of her life. This is a fine horror story. It contains a few computer generated formatting problems that messed up some words, but the piece is an otherwise superb example of what good horror writing is. Truth be told, Wolf makes me wish I was a better writer than I am. Her work touched me in deep places.
Dana’s Hand is another of Wolf’s stories which resonates with a quiet horror. A mother lost in dementia is guarded during the day by her offspring, Dana, and calmed of her night-time terrors by the strange healing powers of Dana’s left hand. But it is not the subtle horror of the situation which captures us. No, it is Dana’s capacity for joy and her appetite for life that reaches us, that lifts our spirits to a sweet sadness too many of us already know.
Mr. Cowmeadow’s Sky is at once disturbing and uplifting. A story about a dying man on a dying world who yet finds joy in the continued existence of his son, the only thing in his life he ever considered worthwhile.
The rest of the stories in this wonderful collection? I think the talented and accomplished author who introduces the book sums it up perfectly: “Wolf uses different genres, different voices, different cultures—in short whatever she needs to make the story work. What ties it all together is her sure-handed prose and a depth she brings to her writing, that indefinable element that rises up from between the lines and gives a good story its resonance… —Charles de Lint—
Finding Creatures & Other Stories is excellent fiction—period. I heartily recommend it.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009