Scott Thomas’ collection of short horror stories will leave you chilled, haunted and craving more of his artfully sculpted stories.
Review by Gia Lee
You might fancy gathering around an autumn fire with close friends and reading these ghostly tales of 18th and 19th century New England by its light—that way you’d be both transported to a time not so far gone and have others around to help ward off the many frightening images conjured up with Thomas’ well-appointed stories. ‘Well-written’ is a term thrown about a lot in reviews, but this horror collection actually lives up to it. As ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’, here’s an example from Thomas’ story “The Seed of Increase Severance”:
“July waxed toward August, an unborn sibling who would inherit heat and wildflowers, and like its predecessor fling lightning above the summery green of New England hills. Clover would bob with the weight of bees, meadows would doze under blankets of mist, and as the weeks progressed one season would tilt toward the next. Dandelions, past bright blooming, would resign to dull white and relinquish their seeds to the wind, seeds destined to be carried away down shady lanes to who knows where” (p. 91).
“The Seed of Increase Severance” is one of the longer ones in Thomas’ collection, and one of the best as it succeeds in having unique imagery conjured up throughout while at the same time skillfully transporting one to Middlebridge, Massachusetts in the 18th century through its characterizations and dialogue. It centers on a man named Increase Severance, who was born to a woman named Deliverance Severance. As severance can mean the act of ending a relationship, the storyline fits the main character’s name: Increase is separated from his true love’s presence through her death. More gruesome is the fact that her dead body isn’t able to decompose below ground. Her deceased form is hoisted more than forty feet above the ground to decay for all to see as the seasons go by till there is nothing left of her body to fall to the ground. No spoilers, so the ending won’t be revealed here, but suffice it to say that the ending is also happily not predictable.
Other frightful stories include “The Bronze-Colored Horse” which is set in Connecticut around 1836 and “Mr. Woodbridge’s Visit” which is set in Massachusetts in 1836. In “The Bronze-Colored Horse” some people experience great pain and then are left with nothing but red holes where their eyes used to be. In “Mr. Woodbridge’s Visit,” one family thinks they’re safe only to find they’ve been struck by a tragedy as great as their neighbor’s loss.
If you like a short story with a sense of divine justice, “Where Demons Sleep in the Trees” will leave you satisfied as an abusive father gets his just deserts at the claws of these tree demons, who are more of the savior variety. There’s a great sense of loss in “Jerusha” and an evocation of growing dread in “A Nice Warm Bed” that will perhaps make you unable to sleep well at night till you face the fears that good horror writing like this elicits from your subconscious mind.