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Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales by Angela Slatter
Cover Artist: Pedro Marques
Review by Mario Guslandi
PS Publishing  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781786360335
Date: 24 January 2017

Links: Author's Website / Publisher's Book Page / Show Official Info /

Australian writer Angela Slatter has by now established herself as one of the best authors of dark fantasy. Her critically acclaimed collections include The Girl with No Hands, Sourdough, The Bitterwood Bible, and A Feast of Sorrows.

The current new collection Winter Children assembles a number of Slatter's stories scattered in various horror anthologies to which she had contributed, plus an original piece which has never appeared in print before, "The Red Forest", a dark fairy tale where a sick girl receives a new, vigorous heart which allows her to face pestilence and war.

Slatter has a knack for revisiting classical themes under a very personal, delightful light. Fine examples are two Lovecraftian stories, "The Song of Sighs" which is cleverly built as a suspenseful mystery and "Only the Dead and the Moonstruck", a creepy tale portraying a family becoming the target of an unearthly, evil creature.

If you prefer zombies, you will enjoy the offbeat "The Dead Ones Don't Hurt You" featuring a lonely girl who buys herself a zombie as a fiancÚ, and the equally unusual "The Way of All Flesh" where a predator is hunted in a post-apocalyptic setting.

"Pale Tree House" is a brief, blood curling story depicting a young man devoted to a disreputable task involving little children.

"Sun Falls" is a quite original piece where a vampire "assistant" helps her master to regenerate himself in exchange to her freedom.

"The Burning Circus" is a nasty tale where a woman takes her long due revenge on the Circus artist who ruined her life.

The following stories really stand out as unforgettable masterpieces.

In the enticing novelette "Home and Hearth" a wayward teenager goes back home after being cleared from a terrible accusation. Described with cold realism, the hidden horror gets finally revealed with sudden ferocity.

"The October Widow" is a spellbinding, perfectly crafted story of witchcraft and revenge apt to chill the reader to the bone.

The title story, "Winter Children", an extremely dark and unsettling piece, tells us how a young woman troubled by the memory of her murdered sister at last meets the assassin in a final, tragic confrontation.

Highly recommended.

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