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Book Review

September and Other Stories

Julie Ann Dawson

(Bards, Sages)

In her dedication for September and Other Stories, author Julie Ann Dawson says that much of her work is inspired by events that transpired during rpg (role-playing game) sessions. While RPG fiction is not exactly a respected genre, Dawson proves that it not only can work, but that there is no excuse why it doesn't.

This debut collection of short stories features three stories inspired by both H.P. Lovecraft and the rpg created using his mythos "Call of Cthulu". The stories are presented in diary form and told from the perspective of Natasha Collins. Set in the 1920's, Collins is a professor of philosophy and religion who comes from an affluent family. Besides possessing an independent spirit, Collins can "see" spirits, and other types of supernatural creatures. Gifted, or cursed depending on your viewpoint, with this ability since childhood, she matter-of-factly relays the events that occur to her in a way that makes the abnormal appear to be perfectly normal. Of course, everyone around her believes her to be insane, and for a time the reader also wonders if Collins is actually experiencing the events in the stories or is simply deluded.

The characters in Dawson's stories are interesting and engaging. On of the most enjoyable characters for me is in fact a minor recurring character, Glenda Collins, mother to Natasha and her two sisters. Glenda is not content with the fact that all three of her daughters have careers. In fact, the idea that her children would rather have careers instead of getting married and producing grandchildren generates some rather entertaining dialogue.

Dawson switches gears midway through the collection, and in the process shows a surprising range of styles. Moving from the more formal and refined style of the novella September and its related stories, she produces "To Dine With a Demon," a modern story of a writer who ends up having lunch with a demon. The story walks the line between pulp horror and theology effortlessly. Flash fiction pieces like "Voodoo" and "Brown Pants" offer what seem to be real life snippets where Dawson shares her dry humor while illustrating some of the odd scenerios a writer of horror might find herself in.

The collection has 16 short stories and poems in all. Dawson's word choice and expert use of dialogue produces fast-paced and exciting dark fiction that is sure to please readers looking for a change of pace over the often blood splattered shock fiction or vampire romances that passes itself off as horror. -- Rene Archer

About the reviewer: Rene Archer is currently working on an associates degree in communications and does freelance work for local newspapers. She spends most of her time with her two dogs, reading, playing RPGs, and trying to finish her novel.

Book news ...
 
Satan's 3 Ring Circus of Hell
Robert Steven Rhine
 
“SATAN'S 3 RING CIRCUS of HELL”
IS COMING TO TOWN!
R.S. RHINE'S "HUMOR-IFFIC" GRAPHIC NOVEL
SHIPS JUNE 2005 through DIAMOND

It's DARK, HORRIFIC, FREAKY and very FUNNY. The "Grin Creeper," writer ROBERT STEVEN RHINE's, 278 page, glossy, color, graphic novel, featuring 43 of the top comic book illustrators in the world, is setting up tent! Published by Asylum Press, and Rhine's partner at FrankenRhine Productions, FRANK FORTE, the book will be listed in the May 2005 Diamond catalogue, shipping June 2005 and hitting stores this July. Forward by FEO AMANTE. Only 19.95!

SATAN'S 3 RING CIRCUS OF HELL is comprised of over 43 original stories by R.S. Rhine, illustrated by the following top artistic masters of macabre: WILLIAM STOUT, TIM VIGIL, JOHN CASSADAY, HILARY BARTA,  FRANK DIETZ, ALAN. M. CLARK, JIM SMITH, TONE RODRIGUEZ, FRANK FORTE, SPAIN RODRIGUEZ, ERIC PIGORS, ALEX PARDEE, MIKE SOSNOWSKI, OMAHA PEREZ, JOE VIGIL, JOHN HOWARD, DAVID HARTMAN, MATT HOWARTH, D.W. FRYENDALL, TOMMY CASTILLO, BRYAN BAUGH, SHANNON WHEELER,  VINCENT WALLER, JACOB HAIR, GAK, NENAD GUCUNJA, JOE BUCCO, KEVIN COLDEN, MARK COVELL, STEVE COBB, ANDY BRADY, DAVID PALEO,  FRANKIE B. WASHINGTON,  JOHN WATKINS CHOW, RICH LONGMORE, RAFAL HRYNKIEWICZ, STEPH DUMAIS, ALEKSANDAR SOTIROVSKI, JEFF GAITHER, CLAY HENSS, STEVEN MANNION, ALASTAIR FELL & NORMAN CABRERA.

SATAN's 3 RING CIRCUS of HELL is a more humorous and darker "Tales Of The Crypt," pushing the boundaries farther, while walking the tightrope between horror and humor. This collection brings more top horror genre artists together in one quality horror collection than ever before!

The book will also feature the award winning short story by R.S. Rhine, first prize winner of the 2005 WORLD HORROR CON dark fiction contest, “Propeller Boy” (illustrated by Alex Pardee). Rhine's has been published in over 100 fiction magazines. Other published works and comic books with Frank Forte's Asylum Press include: SATAN GONE WILD, CHICKEN SOUP FOR SATAN, SELECTED READINGS FROM SATAN'S POWDER ROOM and MY BRAIN ESCAPES ME (Sun Dog Press). R.S. Rhine will also be featured in the upcoming Carol & Graf hardcover edition of the book "Dark Delicacies" alongside Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan and other literary icons. The book will be released Halloween 2005. He will also have a story in the upcoming "Dead Cat Bouncing."

SATAN'S 3 RING CIRCUS OF HELL is published by Asylum Press and FrankenRhine Productions and is currently in Diamond May Previews and shipping in June '05 to stores around the world.

For more info go to: http://www.robertrhine.com/

For a recent interview with Robert Steven Rhine visit::
http://www.moviepoopshoot.com/squib/65.html

 

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