Friday, 29 December 2017
I have to start this review saying that serious horror has never been a genre that appealed to me. So, it was a huge surprise to find this very dark material sucking me in and refusing to let go. This is not just serious horror: this is thoughtful horror. Her predators are real and terrifying; listen and you will hear their footsteps behind you.
Tina Collins has an eye for the worst of human nature, and she stuffs her characters with the basest of desires and motives; sexual desire and gratification are the essential ingredients. Her monsters' (human or not) carnal needs are things we can all relate to at some level, and are the more frightening and disgusting for it.
The writing is incredibly easy to run with; utter horror should not be this readable. Her confidence in handling the subject matter means that it evokes images straight up; after a while, it felt like I was wandering around Goya’s black paintings: scenes of despair and human futility, the big pictures quickly and beautifully rendered with deft splashes of words, and the details presented with subtlety and a master’s touch.
Somehow into all of this, she threads a tiny bit of hope, but mostly to extinguish it like a magician before your eyes. Despair is pretty much the glue that binds these short stories together, and there appears to be no real happy endings here then ... but if you are getting the impression it all sounds too bleak and nasty, only to be enjoyed by sick individuals, then you would be very, very wrong. The darkness resonates: you read it and are surprised by how digestible each little course is.
As a reader, I have felt rewarded by this book, embracing the ‘dark side’ a little and being a bit more at ease with its presence. As a writer, I feel I’ve learned something about the art of storytelling.
I will be looking out for more work from this author.