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Author Topic: Casting Shadows - Tett, Kuyper & Robertson  (Read 1165 times)
Geoff_N
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« on: February 22, 2010, 07:45:10 AM »

Casting Shadows
A collection of dark tales and poems written by Joleen Kuyper, E.J. Tett and Jo Robertson
Published by the authors at Lulu.com 2009
ISBN: 978-1409284154

Reviewed by Geoff Nelder

This eclectic collection, although immersed in noir, shines with brilliant prose and poetry. A dozen short stories are sandwiched between a dozen poems, four each by the three writers, so that the unease you experience from one style is twisted into you by another. It is rather like listening to a choir of three voices: they are in harmony but braided with distinct voices.

I have no experience of assessing poetry and so I refrain from expressing judgement on their literary merit. What I can say is that the words convey feelings of apprehension delivered with literary fluidity. Some of the poems lead with pleasing imagery, lulling you into a false Wordsworthian glow then pulls the rug from under you with terror or mere unease. A great example is in E J Tett’s poem Picture the Scene, in which rainbow colours and pretty ornaments take the reader’s eye off Tett’s evil intentions. Such bitter sweetness is the hallmark of this collection. More M R James than Joseph d’Lacey.

The eponymous story I’d say, is the brooding theatrical tale, Whistling in the Theatre by Joleen Kuyper. Renée auditions for a shadow part in the cast of a new play. The whistles only she hears worries her, and so the reader, until both are enlightened, so to speak, in the darkest shadow.

Roses are fragrant harmless flowers aren’t they? Not in Roses by Jo Robertson, in which the reader is treated to nausea, disturbance, yet wonderful imagery. For example, blood makes an interesting marbling effect when spilt in paint; a decorating hint discovered by the protagonist when she works at making an inherited home habitable. Her blood? Not necessarily.

One of the problems with horror stories is not so much maintaining suspense – in which all three writers succeed excellently – but in the ending. If the reader is already unsettled, how can an ending be satisfying? Resolution of the hook conflict is good but to me, not if left with nothing. Such an ending spoils, for me, the otherwise marvellous last-person-alive tale in Omen. On the other hand, the writers often employ non-linear plotlines with great effect; as in the story, The Immortal Benedict Calhoun. Ben makes a difficult decision, the development of which intertwines with his present situation on a hill watching the sun set.

Although distinct, the three writers’ voices are literary. For example the story, Eyes, is reminiscent of AL Kennedy’s writing although all the dialogue tags would need to be expunged, some passive phrases made active and someone empty the magazine of the ellipses scattering gun.

This slim volume should be in high street shops. Such a coruscating experience should be harboured by every literary horror reader and given as presents to all. In the meantime purchase yours from online bookstores such as
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Casting-Shadows-E-J-Tett/dp/1409284158

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