Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Delicate Toxins
edited by John Hirschhorn-Smith
Side Real Press, 339 pages

Delicate Toxins
John Hirschhorn-Smith
John Hirschhorn-Smith is the founder of Side Real Press.

Side Real Press Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Hanns Heinz Ewers (1872-1943) was a renowned German author of weird and decadent fiction, whose work nowadays is largely forgotten and/or scarcely available because of his personal involvement with the Nazi party.

UK-based Side Real Press, which is endeavoring to translate and reprint most of Ewers' work, has produced an elegant volume of original short stories by contemporary writers, inspired to the fiction and the cultural milieu of the German author.

Let me say, right away, that this is an offbeat but exceptional anthology, assembling an extremely high number of outstanding pieces. With very few exceptions, the eighteen stories, penned by famous and less famous authors of dark fiction, possess a peculiar, extraordinary quality, largely superior to that of the average product offered by the current dark literature.

First of all I'd like to mention Stephen J. Clarks's "Salmacy," an extraordinary, bleak tale with the character of a sepia-colored old movie. Disquieting in the extreme, the story ambiguously depicts what could appear either as a tableau of unholy, inhuman cults or as the shadow of the horrors of a concentration camp.

Peter Bell contributes "The Rites of Pentecost," a superlative piece of decadent horror where pagan rites reveal a dark reality apt to scare the reader stiff.

Another outstanding piece is Michael Chislett's totally fascinating "Endor," a powerful, intoxicating mix of witchcraft, eroticism and possession.

In the superb but more traditional "The Naked Goddess" by Daniel Mills a man reminisces about an unsettling incident occurred in his youth.

"Mathilde" by R.B. Russell, a beautiful, odd love story with an elusive but touching ending, stands out for its excellent narrative style and terrific dialogues.

"Dogs" by r.j. krijnen-kemp is a weird piece of erotic horror, while "Crossing the Sea of Night" by Mark Howard Jones is a sophisticated version of the "crazy scientist" character within the frame of a desperate SF piece.

Angela Caperton provides "Tlaloc," a remarkable, enticing cocktail of magic, fake science, sex and exoticism, with the flavor of an old time movie.

Reggie Oliver's "Singing Blood," graced by a splendid narrative style, portraits a serial killer with the peculiar obsession for the noise of spilling blood.

"White Roses, Bloody Silk" by Thana Niveau is an astonishing piece of horror with a sado-masochist taste, told in a detached but quite effective fashion.

Mark Samuels' "Three Vignettes" are three dark, grim fables consistent with the author's gloomy views about the human condition.

Other contributors are Richard Gavin, Katherine Haynes, Colin Insole, Mark Valentine, Orrin Grey, Adam S. Cantwell and D.P. Watt.

Praise to editor/publisher John Hirschhorn-Smith for assembling such a terrific anthology which offers the opportunity to enjoy excellent, unconventional fiction and also to get acquainted with some unfamiliar authors. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2011 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.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide