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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 7/20/17

Man Out of Hell by John H. Knox, Dancing Tuatara, 2011

The second of three collections of this author's stories from the weird detective pulps, in almost all of which the supernatural elements are rationalized. A couple of the stories in this selection are pretty racist, not surprising for their time. Mexicans are all superstitious and blacks are just inept. The title story involves a very sophisticated robot, so technically it is SF. The others tend to have more mundane rationalizations, usually villains faking the supernatural to mask what they are actually doing. Despite the effusive introduction, these are mediocre to poor stories.  7/20/17

The Complete Supernatural & Weird Fiction of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Leonaur, 2013

There are over five hundred pages of short fiction here, most but not all of it supernatural or at least fantastic. One of the best stories is not fantastic at all, "Frozen Margrit." The stories are usually variations of familiar plots, although Baring-Gould was a better writer than most of his contemporary ghost story authors. Almost every story uses first person narration, sometimes nesting one narrative inside another, and several of them have historical settings.  The supernatural elements are invariably low key, sometimes even benevolent, and occasionally ambiguous. "The Haunted Dragoon" and "The Horror on the Stair" are the best of the overtly supernatural stories. 7/13/17

Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Ueda Akinari, Columbia University, 2006 

This is a famous series of lightly supernatural short stories from the 18th Century. Most involve encounters with ghosts and other mythical creatures. They are entertaining, but more fantasy than horror despite their supernatural elements. This was a very influential book in Japan but Western readers may have difficulty because of a lack of background. Fortunately, this edition includes a quite lengthy prologue that provides the necessary information and makes the stories much more effective. I strongly advise reading it before going on to the stories themselves.7/12/17

Reunion in Hell by James H. Knox, Dancing Tuatara, 2010

This is a collection of suspense stories originally published in the weird mystery magazines of the 1930s. In most cases, but not all, the supernatural or fantastic elements are rationalized at the end, not always very convincingly. Knox was not a bad storyteller, but his work is riddled with gigantic plot holes that he obviously felt no compulsion to plug. Some events are unexplained, motives are confused, people act inappropriately in response to what is going on, and the author interjects coincidences and other devices to get his heroes out of trouble. 7/5/17

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