The novella is an ideal length for dark fiction: short enough to sustain mood, long enough to develop interesting characters. This fine collection of five novellas shows off Simmons' range of styles: a literary tale of a man and his daughter on a scary mountainside; a Bram Stoker Award-winning horror tale about female vampires in Thailand; a semi-horrific Native American story about a young Sioux who undertakes various trials in order to become holy; a dark science fiction tale about a drug that has pernicious effects on society; and a harrowing, ambitious tale about the horrors of World War I.
From Library Journal
These five novellas mark the newest epiphany in a career that spans some dozen books, including Summer of Night ( LJ 1/91). In an unusually detailed introduction, Simmons observes that his work is almost obsessively concerned with the themes of love, death, and loss. The stories move confidently from the plea of an excessively cautious parent to a horrific drama of AIDS inflicted by a vengeful ex-G.I. A young brave's search for sexual adventure shapes a tale drawn from Native American tribal mythology, while a recreational drug that replays life in flashbacks forms the premise for a slight piece that juxtaposes a desperate fantasy with the Kennedy assassination. The final novella, an elaborate war saga, weaves the verse of Siegfried Sassoon and other real-life poets with the diary of a fictional soldier turned priest. Dipping in and out of the collection fosters better appreciation of the novellas' differences in tone, mood, and effect, but Simmons's scattershot technique guarantees at least one intense encounter for every reader.- Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress
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