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Fables and Fabrications by Jan Edwards
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Fables and Fabrications

by Jan Edwards

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Many short stories suffer from being sketchy outlines of part-formed characters and superficial situations. Author Jan Edwards does exactly the opposite in her compact chronicles, seemingly distilling the detail and energy from an entire novel into a condensed, compelling form.

She doesn’t skimp on the background detail – Midnight Twilight is a perfect example of this. A distant figure drives his sled across the arctic snowscape in the midnight hour… and you can almost feel the bitter chill on any exposed skin. Edwards brings layers of convincing information to this modern myth, populating an ice-bound research station with howling sled-dogs and a gruff, no-nonsense handler. Her protagonist expertly takes to cross-country skiing – and it’s a delight that so many of the self-possessed characters in this collection are female.

Pet Therapy shares a similar scenario to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep – a nursing home where animals should supply comfort to the terminally ill. In King’s book the feline influence is generally benign. In Pet Therapy, the uncanny cat is altogether more sinister and threatening, definitely demonic in its actions and intentions. Yet there’s an underlying humour to the tale which keeps it firmly grounded – the parrot with its Tourette’s type vocabulary is completely priceless.

The Abused & Him is by far the most scary story in this anthology, and its impact has nothing whatsoever to do with anything supernatural. Edwards graphically creates the suffocating terror experienced by a trapped victim hiding from a familiar tormentor. It’s extraordinarily powerful.

And then several of the stories are much more light-hearted; Jack Jumped Out Of The Box is an entertaining pastiche of hard-boiled crime noir which bubbles with word play, snappy dialogue and sneaky pseudonyms. The final story, A Taste Of Culture is just flat-out fun. I wasn’t sure that the various haiku and poems added much to proceedings – but then I’m much more of a prose person.

Edwards expertly blends matter-of-fact everyday reality with far-fetched and fanciful notions that somehow seem entirely credible. These stories suggest that the preternatural is ever present, and can be briefly glimpsed out of the corner of an eye. Just don’t look too closely…
8/10 ( )
  RowenaHoseason | Jun 22, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0993000843, Paperback)

From the Arctic wastes of Norway to a fun-laden evening at the fair, Jan Edwards leads us through a world where nothing is as it seems. Shape changers and ancient spirits roam, and cats play their inscrutable parts in stories that unsettle and disturb the reader's perceptions. Fourteen tales of mystery, mirth and the macabre. Chosen from her back catalogue of horror and dark fantasy these stories, leavened with a sprinkle of verse, have been collected for the first time in this volume. On ‘Drawing Down the Moon’: ‘Jan Edwards has yet to let me down’ – Dave Brzeski, British Fantasy Society On ‘Midnight Twilight’: ‘A really good story made brilliant by the final reveal’ – Jim Macleod, Ginger Nuts of Horror On ‘A Taste of Culture’: ‘One of the stories that makes [The Mammoth Book of Dracula] a keeper’ – N. Light, Amazon.com

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 18 Jul 2016 21:51:04 -0400)

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