"'Jane,' he said softly,
unable to stop himself from giving her one last chance. 'Do you
know what day is today?'..."
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
judge a new writer on the basis of his/her
debut collection is always a difficult task. In some instances the
debut is striking (but promises may or may not be fulfilled in the
next books). Other times the first published volume is just the
unsuccessful attempt by a newcomer to find his/her own voice and
then the author’s subsequent work attains maturity and
Newman’s first short story collection From
Dark Places lies somewhere in between.
volume assembles twenty-five stories, but many (too many!) of them
are simply sketchy, insipid vignettes which are immediately
forgotten after turning the page.
stories are actually not bad at all, although a bit flimsy, such as
the original The Handsome Dragon
a piece about technological forecasts, graced by a cute final twist,
and The Art of Desire,
an entertaining tale where a little girl’s drawings possess the
uncanny ability of becoming real.
Surprise, where a man takes his revenge
on his forgetful wife (but things do not really work out as expected)
is good, but way too short. Readers would have been interested to see
the plot expanded and further developed.
unclipped the seatbelt. He reached under his seat, felt for the
handle and closed his fingers around it. "Jane," he said softly,
unable to stop himself from giving her one last chance. "Do you
know what day is today?"
Newman’s collection does include some very good tales which bode
well for her future career.
the Bag is an offbeat tale blending the
theme of zombies with a supernatural atmosphere where love wins over
ran the length of the corridor, which formed the spine of the house,
the moans and splintering of glass temporarily muffled by the levels
between, and planted her, teetering, on the floor. He hadn’t
switched on any of the lights, and barely able to see her hand in
from of her face, Rosalind clung to him, feeling his body stretching
the disquieting From Dark Places
a teenager is haunted by voices speaking to her in the dark.
really a nutcase or are other explanations possible?
light in her father’s room flicked off and the tiny brass key
turned silently in the lock. The door of the grandfather clock swung
out. No creaking floorboards warned her of its approach, no sound
alerted her to its arrival. It was only when it lifted a lock of hair
from her pillow and whispered into her ear that she woke.
the obscure Seeing Him Again an
obsession becomes more real than it first seemed:
squeezed her eyes shut, focused on the scent of Tom’s aftershave.
She only opened them again when his arm moved suddenly. He swept
something from the back of his neck and onto the pavement. A scarlet
spider scurried away.
is a shocking quickie with an unsettling twist in the tail and
The Victim a clever horror piece where
the role are reversed ("He reached out
and retrieved the torch, this time using it with more thought,
shining it just to the right of her face… the beam resting on her
lap where a severed hand lay like a trophy from a botched waxwork
best story, which shows how good Newman can
be when she manages to fully employ her potential as a storyteller
is Someone To Watch Over Her,
a beautiful, touching tale of multiple reincarnation and soul-mating
lover yelled into his mobile phone for an ambulance as her last
breath dissipated from her lungs.
didn’t let it go until the core soul detached from the body,
screaming with the pain of being wrenched from life ahead of
schedule. He grasped the twisting form, ripped in two, then again and
again until a faint, gray haze floated above the body.
a new name to watch in the dark fiction area.