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Tesseracts 13: Chilling Tales from the Great White North
edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell
Edge, 336 pages

Nancy Kilpatrick
Nancy Kilpatrick writes horror, dark fantasy, mysteries and erotic horror, under her own name, and under a nom de plume. Besides writing novels and short stories, and editing anthologies, she has written 4 issues of VampErotic comics. She has won the Arthur Ellis Award for best mystery story, has been a Bram Stoker finalist twice and an Aurora Award finalist 3 times. With years of teaching experience at a Toronto College behind her, Nancy now teaches several on-line courses. She lives with her black cat Bella in Montreal.

Nancy Kilpatrick Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Nancy Kilpatrick
SF Site Review: Graven Images

David Morrell
David Morrell is the award-winning author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He was born in 1943 in Kitchener, Ontario. At the age of 17, he became a fan of the classic television series, Route 66. Their scripts by Stirling Silliphant so impressed Morrell that he decided to become a writer. In 1966, the work of another writer (Hemingway scholar Philip Young) prompted Morrell to move to the United States, where he studied with Young at Penn State and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American literature. First Blood was published in 1972 while Morrell was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. He taught there from 1970 to 1986, simultaneously writing other novels. Eventually wearying of two professions, he gave up his tenure in order to write full time.

David Morrell Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: NightScape

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Tesseracts  13 The interesting and exhaustive overview of Canadian dark fiction by Robert Knowlton placed at the end of the book makes the inattentive reader realize how many horror writers commonly assumed to be American are actually Canadian. And the whole of the latest instalment in the Tesseracts series, entirely devoted to horror fiction, confirms that Canada is a prolific country for that genre fiction. Although some emerging talents (Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin and Barbara Roden, just to mention a few) are unfortunately missing, editors David Morrell and Nancy Kilpatrick (two Canadian masters of horror themselves) are to be commended for assembling an anthology providing a showcase to both established authors and comparatively newcomers of Canadian roots. Of course it is impossible to comment upon each of the twenty-three stories included, so I'll discuss only the tales that, for one reason or the other, deserve a special mention.

My favourite is, by far, "Overtoun Bridge" by Bev Vincent. In less skilled hands, the plot (dogs committing suicide by jumping from a haunted bridge) would have sounded preposterous. On the contrary, the author tells the story with such a subtlety and carves the leading character, an unhappy young woman, with such ability to create an atmospheric piece of uncommon beauty.

Another outstanding piece is Michael Kelly's brief but chilling "The Woods," where two old friends meet and chat in a chilled, iced background. But things are left unsaid and a terrible suspicion makes the atmosphere even more freezing.

"Bed of Scorpions" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia seems to me a cross between horror and magic realism. In the end is simply a superb tale where a couple, an incestuous brother and sister who are trying to arrange a marriage of convenience between the girl and a rich but sick man, see things take an unexpected turn.

In Edo van Belkom's "Quints" a thoughtful doctor aids a woman to deliver quintuplets and then takes God's place in determining the family"s future. A splendid story told in a smooth, compelling narrative style.

"The Tear Closet" by Suzanne Church is a beautiful, dark fairy tale in which a heartless man harasses his wife and his young daughter but cannot fight the power of their tears.

"Stone Cold" by Kevin Cockle provides the unnerving portrait of an invalid paralyzed by an unknown neurological disorder and surprises the reader with a disquieting twist in the tail.

Rebecca Bradley's "Kids These Days" is a cruel, distressing tale depicting a bleak future where kids struck by a viral infection are reduced to a zombie-like condition.

"Silence" by Stephanie Short constitutes an original, appealing follow-up to the Pied Piper legend, while the tense "His One True Love" by Catherine MacLeod features a greedy widow fiercely attacked by a blue jay embodying the vengeful spirit of his recently deceased husband.

Matthew Moore contributes the melancholy, well written "The Weak Son" where a kid with a stern father reenacts the events leading to his own death and Mary E Choo pens "The Language of Crows," a compelling piece of modern gothic graced by an excellent characterization.

It's plain to see that the volume represents a veritable feast for dark fiction lovers as well as the opportunity to get acquainted with a bunch of excellent Canadian writers. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2009 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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