Title: Candle in the Attic Window
Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press
Release: September of 2011
Format: 289 pages. Available in paperback and e-book
Candle in the Attic Window starts with a Bronte epigraph. This is the signal to know that acts of gothic literature are about to be committed. The twenty-seven stories and poems in the anthology can be found in its four sections: Dwellings & Places, Lovers & Desire, Objects & Mementos, Ghosts & Death. Candle in the Attic is an invitation to the reader. Come into their freaky, scary house. You’ll love it there.
The belle of the ball for me was At the Doorstep, by Leanna Renee Hieber. It presents a vivid, gritty world reeling from war; dangerous for mediums and more so for the everyday people in it. I was ecstatic to discover upon reading her bio that the world of At the Doorstep will be further available to readers in November, with her book Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul.
Happily, Heiber’s story is not the only gem. The poem A Fixer-Upper by Amanda C. Davis, the opening piece in the anthology, is a delightfully twisted, frank take on the old chestnut of the heiress who inherits the haunted house.
The Seventh Picture, by Orrin Grey, starts slick and a little self-aware, but I warmed to it by the end. With a hat tip to Robert W. Chambers, and a Blair Witch feel, it’s still got a shot of good old-fashioned horror as you join a film crew on a trip to a terrible place best left undisturbed. Liminal Medicine, by Jesse Bullington, was achingly beautiful, with violence appropriate to the story.
Housebound, by Don D’Ammassa, is a solid, if very strange story. The City of Melted Iron, by Bobby Cranestone, was one of the stories I wasn’t sure I’d like at the start. By the end, it was a personal favorite. It has a keen take on the high price of living.
The Ba-Curse, by Ann K. Schwader is a delightfully short, violent poem about the perils of archaeology. Hitomi, by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas, is an all too brief story with wonderful payoff.
E. Catherine Tobler’s The Snow Man was a rather tender piece of romance, and Mary E. Choo’s The Malcontents is good, if rather botanically disturbing. The Forgotten Ones, by Mary Cook, was a swift, emotional gut punch. It’s skilled and brief, but it isn’t kind. Frozen Souls, from Sarah Hans, was a clever story that hides and reveals, playing an enjoyable game of smoke and mirrors. Nine Nights, by T.S. Bazelli, was a deftly rendered tale, and I greatly appreciate it for being set in a place and situation I’ve never experienced in horror in the way Bazelli tells it.
Colleen Anderson’s Obsessions (or Biting Off More Than One Can Chew) was too high concept for me, and one of my less than enjoyable reads. In His Arms in the Attic, by Alexis Brooks de Vita, was one of the stories I found neither enjoyment in, nor merit in the subject matter. The rest of the stories were a mix ranging from serviceable to gruesome; as executions of corners of the genre I do not cherish, they are likely forgettable to me but of exceptional interest to others. No matter what breed of gothic literature you prefer, Candle in the Attic Window has a little something for everyone; like the dread inducing mansion on the hill, it has many, many rooms.