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Angela Challis (ed.)

Brimstone Press (2006)


Reviewed by Tim Kroenert (this review was first published in March 2007)

Lovers of dark flash fiction (this reviewer included) may rejoice: this anthology from Brimstone Press, which collects stories previously published in the very fine Australian flash fiction journal Shadowed Realms, is one hell of a delightfully dark read.

Flash fiction (ultra-short stories, in the case of Shadowed Realms, less than 1,000 words) tends to be a somewhat underrated medium, and a craft quite distinct from longer short story writing. At its very best, flash fiction goes some way to bridge the wide gap between short story and poem, requiring by its very nature a strict economy of language and rapid, visceral approach to storytelling.

At its worst, flash fiction can resemble incomplete or truncated stories, or isolated scenes that lack impact without proper context. Luckily there are very few examples of this to be found in Book of Shadows. More often than not these stories successfully achieve a concise beginning-middle-end approach, giving them a completeness that belies their diminutive word count. Read the rest of this entry »

Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings (eds.)

Brimstone Press (2006)

ISBN: 9780980281705

Reviewed by Tim Kroenert (this review was first published in March 2007)

In their introduction to Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2006, editors Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings contend that Australian “dark fiction is hot property right now”. If you have any cause to doubt them, then the evidence they present, in the form of twelve short stories and five essays included in the anthology, should persuade you — if this is the best Australian dark fiction authors had to offer during 2005 then all signs point to a very ripe field indeed.

There is, in short, hardly a weak moment in the anthology. From the first story to the last, each is highly original, superbly crafted and extremely entertaining. Authors and editors alike should be commended.

One of the most striking aspects of the anthology is the sheer diversity of subjects and styles it includes. The stories range from merely unsettling to truly frightening, and from the laugh-out-loud funny to the achingly sad. As you read you’ll encounter everything from zombies to sentient killer glaciers; from tortured inventors to samurai heroes. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Haines

Brimstone Press (2011)

ISBN: 978-0-9805677-1-7

Reviewed by Guy Salvidge

Paul Haines’ third collection of stories, The Last Days of Kali Yuga, was recently launched at Swancon Thirty Six in Perth. I had the pleasure of attending the launch and hearing Haines read from his story “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burned”. Having recently read the author’s earlier collection, Slice of Life, I was eager to get my hands on this latest collection from Perth-based Brimstome Press, and it didn’t disappoint. The Last Days of Kali Yuga firmly establishes Haines as one of Australia’s best horror writers (yes, I know he’s from New Zealand originally).

Haines warned me when he signed my copy of this book that the material was dark and perhaps disturbing in nature. I guess it says as much about me as it does of him, but I didn’t find anything particularly objectionable in these pages, although it’s true that some stories were very provocative. The writer Haines reminds me of most is M. John Harrison, whose work is similarly sardonic and sometimes vicious. A number of recurrent themes run through many of Haines’ stories, including but not limited to: the pressures and angst of urban living; sexual frustration and jealousy; and the cycle of seemingly inevitable violence. The author pulls few, if any, punches in his depiction of the more sordid side of life, and he keeps us close to the edge as readers. William S. Burroughs once said that ‘writing should have the immediacy and danger of bullfighting’; Paul Haines is certainly a writer whose work fits that bill.

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