The collection kicks off with Angie Martin’s “Happy Birthday, Aiko,” in which a Japanese-American girl comes face to face with vanity and obsession. “Theory of Terror” by T. Elizabeth Guthrie takes on the familiar trope of a paranormal skeptic who finds herself dealing with an insidious presence. “Quincey’s Purgatory” by Jess Bagnall is an exploration of the horrors visited on the human psyche and the mind’s remarkable ability to paper over the scars, and the painful process of picking at the scabs to release the truth. In CeeCee Elaine’s “The Children of Canyon Lake,” three young adults face isolation and struggle to survive the wilderness and the specters of the colonial sins of the past. “Rise of the Quaranteens” by Brian McCord imagines a future in which children born to mothers who contracted COVID-19 are powerful mutants that are mad at the world. “Legacy” by Courtney Lynn Rose takes on a harrowing exorcism, which makes a young woman question her stance on faith and religion. Finally, “Bloody Fingers” by Annamarie Gardner takes us through a tale of obsession and passion, and the thin line that divides the holy and the hellish.
While I generally enjoyed the concepts presented by each author, the review copy I received was marred with many typographical and clerical errors. Sometimes, the typeface and spacing would also get wonky from page to page. Aside from copyediting issues, several of the stories could use some extra polish to really give them some more sparkle while trimming off some excesses that convoluted the main plot ideas. As a former writer myself, I’m keeping these claims intentionally vague as I think that fiction is personal and they reveal much of their creators. It is, therefore, up to you as a reader to come to your own conclusions the same way I came to mine: by taking the plunge into fantasy.
Mirrors are a staple in horror tropes, utilized frequently for jump scares, presenting protagonists with a dark reflection. They also serve as portals to a seemingly identical world that’s created by light and shadow. Perhaps what really draws us to our reflections is knowing that we see them in reverse, that reality is literally set topsy-turvy by our perception in this illusion. With this in mind, I offer why I think that #StoriesMatter, for what are stories but mirrors in which we reflect on our place, our consciousness, and our need to discern truth and make sense of perception. In these seven stories, seven creative minds do just that.
Creative Team: Angie Martin, T. Elizabeth Guthrie, Jess Bagnall, CeeCee Elaine, Brian McCord, Courtney Lynn Rose, Annamarie Gardner (writers)
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