This book was provided to me by HarperCollins Canada via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers
In this brilliant debut collection, Ian Rogers explores the border-places between our world and the dark reaches of the supernatural. The landscape of death becomes the new frontier for scientific exploration. A honeymoon cabin with an unspeakable appetite finally meets its match. A suburban home is transformed into the hunting ground for a new breed of spider. A nightmarish jazz club at the crossroads of reality plays host to those who can break a deal with the devil…for a price. With remarkable deftness, Rogers draws together the disturbing and the diverting in twenty-two showcase stories that will guide you through terrain at once familiar and startlingly fresh. (via Goodreads)
I’ve been reading a lot of short stories this year (a lot for me, anyway). I’ve met my goal of averaging one short story a week for the year without counting stories from the six or so short story anthologies/collections that I’ve read. I don’t often commit myself to reading a collection of short stories by an author I’m not familiar with. Usually, I encounter a writer a few times here and there, maybe during awards season or in some themed multi-author anthology. Many short stories can be a little forgettable.
I picked up this collection from NetGalley because I was looking for some good ol’ fashioned horror stories. Yes, I did prejudge the book by its cover and its title. I figured a collection entitled Every House is Haunted had to deliver on some level. Though dubious at first, I was not disappointed. Ian Rogers’ stories are definitely not forgettable.
Rogers’ writing style is unadorned. The plots of his tales meander. I’m reminded of Ray Bradbury’s concept of following where the story leads. Some of Rogers’ stories lead seemingly one way before taking a sharp turn. And then the stories end. Sometimes very abruptly. The other thing I was reminded of was EC Comics and some of the 1980s horror anthology shows. Those stories often ended at that moment when the shambling undead stands knocking on the other side of the door, but the door is never opened…on screen. This leads to a delicious sort of anticipation that’s never quite satisfied. While the writer side of my brain kind of grumbled at the loose end, my reader brain continued to revisit the stories. The utter creepiness of “The Candle” is going to be with me for a while.
While the anthology is broken into different sections, like rooms of a house, there are a couple story threads that I found intriguing. “Autumnology,” “Leaves Brown,” and “Twillingate” all dwell in Eastern Canada and play with the concept of that moment, whether it’s a season or a moment of twilight,when the veil between here and not-here is pulled back. I especially liked the concept of no place being autumn all the time; autumn being a time of dying which has to have an end. “The Dark and the Young” and “The Rift Between Us” both have science fiction elements, an aspect that I wasn’t expecting, but still enjoyed. And of course, there were some straight-up haunted house stories in “The Nanny,” “The House on Ashley Street,” and the gothic “The Inheritor.”
Now that I’m familiar with him, I’ll be keeping a look out for more Ian Rogers. Every House is Haunted is available now from ChiZine Publications.
Format: Adobe Digital Edition
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