Writing effective, evocative short stories is a challenge for any writer, no matter the genre—but one can argue that it is exceedingly difficult for the writer of horror. There is a certain amount of requisite detail, a balanced level of development in regard to mood and setting that is key to successfully drawing a reader close to the text, closing aesthetic distance. The average writer runs longer to achieve this desired effect, but for one to capture it in say a mere fourteen pages (“Monkey’s Paw” length), that shows a considerable amount of talent.
I cannot help but be impressed, not just by the quality of the writing (which is seasoned), but also by the imaginative power displayed here. While staying within the horror tradition with some nostalgic tropes and themes, Finn proceeds to assault the reader with fresh, nuanced takes on them. (Be prepared for some Serling-esque twists and turns.) Man’s inhumanity to man, the simmering primal aggression that lies just beneath the civilized surface, mob justice, dystopian futures, existential terrors, monstrosities… Supernatural elements are present, but they are ultimately a means of expressing the horrific nature of the human condition/predicament.
Israel Finn achieves significant depth within a limited amount of space. I would love to see what he might produce in the longer form.
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Review Written by W.J. Renehan