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Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes
edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Edge Books, 311 pages

J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Jeff Campbell's fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Spinetingler Magazine, Wax Romantic and Challenging Destiny. From time to time his writing can also be heard on radio's Imagination Theater and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In addition to writing, he has co-edited the Sherlock Holmes anthologies Curious Incidents 1 and 2 with his good friend Charles Prepolec.

Charles Prepolec has contributed articles and reviews to All Hallows, Sherlock Magazine, Scarlet Street, and Canadian Holmes. An active Sherlockian for more than 20 years with Calgary's The Singular Society of the Baker Street Dozen, he was designated a Master Bootmaker in 2006 by the Canada's national Sherlock Holmes Society.

ISFDB Bibliography: J.R. Campbell
ISFDB Bibliography: Charles Prepolec
SF Site Review: Gaslight Grimoire

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes Following in the steps of the previous volume, Gaslight Grimoire, the new Sherlockian anthology edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec explores again the unpredictable effects of the encounter of Holmes' rational mind with the supernatural. Although I enjoyed many stories from the first volume, I had my reservations about the book because of the inclusion, besides a few excellent tales, of some mediocre material.

I'm happy to say that the present anthology is definitely of superior quality and that the large majority of the thirteen stories assembled therein are accomplished examples of dark fantasy, apt to satisfy even the more demanding readers, either Sherlockian enthusiasts or horror fans or just fiction lovers seeking out entertaining and well written stories.

The highlights of the anthology are numerous. Mark Morris contributes "The Affair of the Heart," an engrossing, ingenuous tale where Holmes and Watson are involved in an astonishing adventure where time shifts dangerously. Barbara Roden provides an enticing, elegantly written piece ("Of the Origin of the Hound of Baskerville"), disclosing an alternative truth behind the official version of the events originally reported by Dr. Watson. In James A. Moore's "Emily's Kiss," an effective, excellent tale of alien horror, a peculiar skin disease runs in an unfortunate family, while in the captivating "The Hand-Delivered Letter" by Simon Kurt Unsworth, Prof. Moriarty reappears, by means of a long letter addressed to Holmes, to exact his terrible vengeance. Editor J.R. Campbell contributes a compelling, truly horrific story ("Mr. Other's Children") wherein the famous detective and the good doctor have to face a disgusting, inhuman menace which, much to their regret, remains at large as a threatening danger to mankind.

Worth mentioning are other very good stories such as Stephen Volk's "Hounded," in which an aged Watson happens to summon back, in the course of a dramatic seance, the Hound of the Baskervilles in its real form and William Meikle's quite original "The Quality of Mercy," where an old Army friend of Dr. Watson manages to make contact with his lost sweetheart, in spite of Holmes' absolute scepticism. Equally enjoyable are the insightful "The Death Lantern" by Lawrence C. Connolly, where advanced technology promotes the solution of a case but also elicits a feeling of nostalgia for a world that is changing forever, and Neil Jackson's "Celeste," a solid horror tale of traditional character, where Holmes brilliantly solves the mystery of the disappearance of the ship Marie Celeste. Mighty entertaining contributions are Leigh Blackmore's "Exalted are the Forces of Darkness," a feuilleton blending a story of greed about a substantial inheritance with the "magic" activities of Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn, and Hayden Trenholm's "The Last Windigo," an adventurous story taking place in Canada, where Homes and Watson put an end to the deeds of unscrupulous businessmen disrespectful of the treaties with local Indians.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2010 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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