Sunday, 8 July 2012

Frightfully Cosy and Mild Stories for Nervous Types

Frightfully Cosy and Mild Stories for Nervous Types by Johnny Mains
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

In addition to his unrelenting  activity as an editor and promoter  of horror fiction, Johnny Mains  also writes dark stories, a first cluster of which has  been  collected  in “ With Deepest Sympathy”, published in 2010 by Obverse Books.

The present volume assembles a further  dozen of  tales, none of which can be defined as outstanding, none as a misfire. Mains provides consistently good material, enjoyable and entertaining, which won’t spellbind  nor disappoint horror readers. This is probably what Mains means to say when he calls himself “a minor writer”, that he’s the king of  fictional aurea mediocritas ( but aurea,after all, means golden, not a minor achievement).

The topics addressed by the stories featured  in the volume are rather diverse.

In The Cure a cancer patient follows un unusual, unorthodox treatment, while in Head a horror fan finally meets in person, but only fleetingly,  his favourite writer.

Dead Forest Air is a well conceived story taking place in Dachau, in which the horrors of the past blend with those of the present time.

The Jacket revolves around a bomber jacket endowed with peculiar properties , while Aldeburgh featuring the great MR James, discloses the source of inspiration for one of the author’s most famous tales.

Prim Suspect is a delightful noir where two murders (one fictional, one occurring in real life) nicely intertwine.

My favourite  story is The Were-Dwarf, an original piece with a good characterization, hilarious and horrific at the same time, a fine example of Mains’ potential as an author. Hopefully he will provide many more stories like that in the near future.

Published by Shadow Publishing - more information and ordering details can be found on their website here.

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