This collection of eighteen short tales, a novelette and a short novel takes the reader inside the dark imagination of Elizabeth Engstrom, author of acclaimed horror classics like When Darkness Loves Us.
In these stories, you will read about a woman asked to be complicit in her own mother’s death, a grandmother with a macabre hobby, a bizarre, phallic-shaped flower that portends evil for a married couple, a father whose son is caught up in a sinister government experiment. These are weird and unsettling tales that will linger with the reader.
In her introduction to this new edition, Lisa Kröger writes, “There are true horrors that await readers in all of Engstrom’s works ... reminds me of another giant of horror literature, Shirley Jackson.”
Indirection and subtle evocations of terror and evil are the hallmarks of this well-crafted collection of horror and fantasy stories. That is not to say there are no letdowns among the 20 tales: one senses that both ``Will Lunch Be Ready on Time?'' and ``Grandma's Hobby'' will involve cannibalism long before reaching their ``surprise'' endings. But most of the stories deliver. In ``Quiet Meditation,'' fantasies about the past war with the dark realities of a woman's life. Engstrom ( When Darkness Loves Us ) indulges in a cliched horror formula in ``The Final Tale''--a full moon, a mysterious stranger and storytellers regaling one another with ghost stories--and still turns out quite a shocker. The horror of the title piece, a variation on the man-eating-plant theme, keeps pace with the growth of the dreadful flower. The gem of the collection is the novella ``Project Stone.'' Here a single machine at the center of a utopian city in the Arizona desert turns against its creators. While the machine emits a tone meant to relieve stress, the townspeople are unaware of its purpose. Engstrom unleashes a chilling, totally unexpected ending. This is a genuinely imaginative and diverse collection; if one story doesn't seduce and horrify the reader, the next one surely will.