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Doomed Romances: Tales of the Weird anthology – book review

Of the four “Tales of the Weird” publications I’ve read so far, this one is my favourite, despite the fact that I’ve read a few of the stories before. Not one of these twelve tales disappointed me or left me feeling unsatisfied in any way. I’ve read Carmilla, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu at least three times before, and I think it improves with each reading.

Mary Shelley’s The Invisible Girl kicks off the anthology. A boy and a girl grow up in the same household and fall in love, but their happiness is destroyed when the boy’s aunt moves into the family home. It’s a rich tale of despair – searching in vain to regain happiness.

Wilkie Collins is one of my favourite Victorian writers, and Mr Captain and the Nymph is a wonderful story of one white man’s sense of absolute entitlement and the destructive horror that inevitably follows.

The Little Woman in Black by Mary Elizabeth Braddon threatens to go in one direction then takes a far more interesting route. Nalo Hopkinson’s The Glass Bottle Trick is another story I’ve encountered before, and like Carmilla, it rewards repeated readings. It’s a Bluebeard-esque story set in the Caribbean. Could You Wear My Eyes by Kalamu ya Salaam is perhaps the strangest tale in the collection and absolutely riveting. It considers the different ways that men and women experience the world.

I loved the way Tracy Fahey employed flashbacks in I’ll be Your Mirror, and the visceral brutality of V. Castro’s Dancehall Devil.

Each of the stories has an short introduction that summarises both author and context of the literary offering. I am enjoying this subscription so much that I suspect I’ll either renew it in June or find a different one to try. Thanks to The British Library for another amazing collection of short stories.

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