- Paperback: 290 pages
- Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press (September 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0986686441
- ISBN-13: 978-0986686443
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,502,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Candle in the Attic Window: An Anthology of Gothic Horror Paperback – September 13, 2011
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Beyond the opening poem, A Fixer-Upper by Amanda C. Davis which is delightful, and the first short story, The Seventh Picture by Orrin Grey, which definitely spins Gothic anew, the stories I read have nothing in common with Gothic, classic or modern, nor are they horror, nor even fantasy. Most of them don't qualify as fully realized short stories - they are mood pieces with lackluster ideas and for the most part are instantly forgettable.
Ironically, the most interesting story of the bunch, Desideratum by Gina Flores, was apparently not proofread for inclusion in this publication. I noted more than a dozen distracting typos and grammatical errors before I lost count. Innsmouth Press is a professional publisher and should provide their paying readers with professionally edited fiction.
As my reading time is valuable, I gave up reading the collection at the 50% mark in the eBook version. I liked the premise of this anthology, but it fails to deliver on too many levels. Not recommended.
Such quibbles quickly became unimportant due to the quality of the prose.
Where do I start? For this collection of gothic-inspired stories was at times not to my taste, but often had me wishing for more by some of the writers. I was not so attracted to the poems, except for Amada Davis' wry "Fixer-Upper" - but most of the fiction resonated with me. Some of the protagonists are, impossibly, "dead narrators" and the book gives you glimpses into their heads before they die, but it this particular subgenre that's not as much of an issue.
When they call this "gothic" that is not to say it was all things that happened in castles or on windswept moors - far from it. The introduction told me it would be stories with a gothic feel, and that the settings would range around the world, and from medieval times up through today. Indeed, I was treated to tales from the Russian front in the war against Hitler, a side trip to the Holy Land with a Templar knight, a tale of tarot and betrayal from 15th century Italy, and a frozen modern high-school plunked into another dimension. There was a surprisingly gentle visit from the ghosts of the Donner party, and less friendly sojourn dealing with the ghosts of the Khremer Rouge, land mines, and the limits of modern medicine. Oh, there were windswept moors and secrets in the attic...but there was also cursed golden age Hollywood film and haunted foundry where the melted iron seemed to demand human sacrifice.
On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The few "dark for the sake of being dark" missteps might appeal to a true horror fan, but mostly it was a great collection of well-written stories.
What a pleasant surprise to find that every story in this collection was written by a modern-day author, and so many of them are really readable. To tell the ugly truth that most horror fans figured out years ago...uh...most Gothic fiction was awful crap. Even Lovecraft was mean to it, and said that most of it was trash.
This collection really seems to strain the wheat from the chaff, and cuts everything GOOD out of the old Gothic tradition (the wonderfully creepy and oppressive settings, the fatal attractions, the unquiet graves and the cursed objects)and leaves behind everything BAD (the awful overblown language, the insipid heroines that make you wanna kill them with an axe, the plots that go nowhere, or someplace stupid).
The result is a really pleasant surprise--an anthology of MODERN Gothic horror which actually entertained me, instead of making me want to hang myself in a garret.
Innsmouth Press. Everything they touch seems to turn to gold.