Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Mirrors - by Nicole Cushing - A strange collection of speculative fiction

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Nicole Cushing is a Shirley Jackson Award finalist who's written a number of stand-alone novellas and dozens of short stories. Nicole has been referred to as the literary equivalent of the love child between Jack Ketchum and Poppy Z. Bright.  Raised in rural Maryland and now living in southern Indiana, Nicole counts master storyteller Edgar Allen Poe as having had a big influence on her as a writer.

A few weeks ago, I read Nicole's debut novel, Mr. Suicide. a book filled with richly demented and deformed characters.  This was one of my favorite reads so far in 2015.  Highly recommended.

The Mirrors is a collection of twenty works of speculative fiction which, for the most part, have been published elsewhere, but appear together for the first time in this volume.

As I read story after story, each a bit stranger than the last, the words from Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken came to my mind. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by..."  These are NOT the typical stories one expects to find in a collection from a horror writer. Sure, they're twisted, demented, and at times unsettling, but there's more to it than that.  Have you ever walked through a Hall of Mirrors at a carnival, the kind that present you with reflections that are misshaped and often leave you lost? Yeah, reading these tales was a bit like that.

There are stories told from the Point Of View of a bottle of morphine, of suicide, hell, amnesia, a homeless time traveler.  There's even a story with a hermaphrodite.

One of my favorites is THE LAST KID SCARED BY LUGOSI where a film buff brings the actor back to life on the 100th anniversary of the release of the iconic Dracula film.

I also loved EULOGY TO BE GIVEN BY WHOEVER'S STILL SOBER about a zombie writer attending his own funeral, planning to drink himself to death.

I often think it might be fun to get inside a writers mind to see just what makes them tick,   After reading this collection by Nicole Cushing, I'm not so sure I'd want to make that trip.  At least, not without adequate protection.

The Mirrors is available now in softcover, with e-book coming soon, from Cycatrix Press.


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