Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THE first review of Insanity By Increments!

Here is the first review for Insanity By Increments. The review will be published by Midwest Book Review for May. Many thanks to MBR and Diane Donovan.

Modern literary short fiction is not unusual: many attempt it; relatively few do it well - especially in the style of the gothic horror approach so aptly explored by Poe, Hawthorne, and other greats. That's why it's such a pleasure to read Insanity by Increments: it takes some of the methods and madness of these greats and moves a step further, presenting nine short stories of contemplation and quiet horror.

Take 'Once Found, Once More Forsaken', for example (the first story in the collection). The protagonist has slept through a storm and is expecting the arrival of his brother, a wealthy wanderer, that morning; but his chance encounter with an old schoolgirl introduces a sense of danger ("The air had an unusual odor, one that seemed to have followed the storm, with the rising waters replenishing the stagnant pools of the bog."), and what transpires next is anything but a congenial family visit.

Surreal moments, gently simmering mysteries, a woodland replete with death and growing horror - all this is gently woven into a story that opens with a receding storm and evolves into exquisitely challenging horror.

'Omens of Winter' is another heart-pull: it opens with a family dilemma and, once more, time is taken to paint scenes properly, right down to the creak of a door as a last generation stands strong against what is to come: "The ancient door still made a ratcheting sound at a point in its arc, and I was careful to not let it alarm them, sliding from behind it as I escaped into the hallway and up the stairs towards my room." When the family structure changes, the kids face many new choices - and dangers.

All are well-done, replete with psychological tension throughout. If it's nonstop staccato action that is desired, look elsewhere. If it's the slow simmer of a buildup that injects readers into the sights, sounds, and circumstances of all kinds of horror and insanity, choose Insanity by Increments: it's a deliciously complex treasure trove especially recommended for fans of literary Gothic fiction who want modern scenarios and representations in the context of a genre that receives (regrettably) little attention these days.

D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, MBR

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