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Author Topic: Review of Open Grave by Jeani Rector  (Read 1639 times)

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« on: September 15, 2008, 06:29:46 PM »

Review of Open Grave: The Book of Horror by Jeani Rector

ISBN-10: 1604417129
ISBN-13: 978-1604417128

Softcover: 273 pages
Published: May 2008
Publisher: Publish America
Price: USD 19.75

Open Grave is a chilling anthology of ten stories one of which, the book’s title, is a recondite novella for the connoisseur of the occult.
The collection travels where few horror writers dare and down roads no normal humans visit. For example, even those of us hardened by our reading of noir tales look away when we encounter a face with an empty eye socket. Not so Jeani Rector. In her first and possibly most grisly tale, Cat’s Eye, we are obliged to keep our eyelids open while we grit teeth and become drawn into the void. With morbid fascination we are compelled to look and read on to the gruesome end.

   Other short tales cover such macabre topics as the Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire; following a young woman’s terrifying experience. The story typifies the way Jeani Rector puts effort into researching her subject matter. We feel we were there, not only in Zaire, but in another story with the Navajo and their Chindis spirits in the hot deserts of Arizona; a touching coming-of-age revelation, in which a grave ceremony goes wrong, in The Burial. Another well-researched story delves into Voodoo. Ghoul, is so realistic I felt my hairs quiver even though the view point is cunningly through the eyes of a disbelieving psychiatrist, who has to accept the fantastic to save his own life. Monday Night Dive is a freaky original story with a surprise ending about grabbing thrown-out food from High Street stores.

   I was mildly disappointed with Cold Spot. It has promise of a gritty horror but in my opinion misses and becomes a child’s morality tale. Nevertheless, it is worth the read for it contains my favourite droll line (yes, there is humour in horror): ‘Troop didn’t feel ten years old any more. Suddenly he felt nine.’

   Under the House is a frightening story of how a young girls hides from her vicious father. Can she remain hidden only inches from him for long? Maybe, but worse awaits her.

   I thank Jeani Rector for Crystal Ball. Once again authenticity is so strong I felt compelled to dig out a genuine unadulterated quartz crystal I’d harboured in my attic and gazed into the milky oddity inside it. Then, as Keja advised, I rubbed my hands before holding the crystal. After a few moments a revelation occurred to me about how to add panache to one of my own stories. There can be no greater accolade for a story than it inspires other tales.

   The novella, Open Grave, is a well-structured long story, playing on the mind control of Rick, a university student, by a black-haired siren who lures him into a bizarre life. There’s a genuine feel for student life in this story, of trust, betrayal but then twists into the macabre. A worthy horror story in itself.

   I have to confess that I groaned when I saw that the publisher was Publish America. No disrespect is intended with this comment. This book demonstrates how a genuinely worthy volume can fall into the Publish America fold even though it would probably fare better with a different publisher. Nevertheless, I urge readers of horror to buy this book, especially if they like substantial dashes of authenticity with their awe and dread.

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