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This Way To Egress Hardcover – 2010
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I have no idea where Connolly gets his stories from but it's equal parts inspiring and intimidating. You look at his earlier work in THIS WAY TO EGRESS, starting with the almost playful vampire story `Buckeye and Spitball', and follow it through to his work after 2000 and it's impossible to guess where he may go next. He hits you with traditional monsters seen through a kid's eyes. Then it's the Russian mob dealing with a con job. And he ends up with a clueless victim being burned alive by seductive spirits in an abandoned house. It's classic Tales of the Crypt horror. It's twisted Twilight Zone Sci Fi. It's the latest international action film.
My favorite was probably `Moon and the Devil', a back alley tale about making deals with Satan. You know it's going to end badly for the main characters but damn the ride is fun. There are others that stuck with me. `Hungry Ann' warns a needy love may haunt you forever. `Things' is a clever and humorous lesson about punks who pick on the wrong neighborhood lady. And any collection with a story called `Mrs. Halfbooger's Basement' can't go wrong.
If I had one problem with this collection it's that a couple of the stories went so far out that I had trouble reeling them in. That's not a criticism about Connolly's writing, but more a comment on my limited capacity to understand the world he painted. His mind knows no boundaries and in some of the stories he warps reality like an old vinyl album left out in the sun. Most fans will love the wild spin. But some of us may feel the need to read the story twice.
THIS WAY TO EGRESS is packed with tight plots, realistic and often colorful characters, deep emotions- and Connolly gives you a full books worth. At almost 200 pages, this is a beautiful collection. From the editing to the paper stock to the awesome cover art, the publisher Ash-Tree Press puts together a high quality professional product. It's a book that you know will look great on your shelf. Even Connolly's intro gives entertaining insight into his 30 years of published work. It's a rare opportunity to see stories that had never been connected before all fall into place.
The only thing that will disappoint dark fiction fans will be that Connolly didn't include another twenty stories.