Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Charlee Jacob
Delirium Books, 288 pages

Charlee Jacob
Charlee Jacob is 45 years old and writes full-time in Garland, Texas. In the past, she's done stage acting, has slung hash, sold designer shoes and rags, dug dinosaur bones and run laundry through a mangler. When she isn't hiding out at home, her husband Jim and she like to look at ornate antique furniture because dead people once owned them and must have been cool. She has placed more than 450 stories and poems in such publications as Into the Darkness, Deathrealm, Terminal Fright, Women Who Run With the Wolves, Lords of Eternal Darkness and Tales of the Unanticipated.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: This Symbiotic Fascination

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Anyone interested in horror fiction today knows the name Charlee Jacob, for her frequent appearances in dark fantasy magazines and anthologies, if not for her novel This Symbiotic Fascination. The novel, and subsequent novellas, short stories, and twisted poetry, have earned her a solid fan base, and with good reason: Jacob happens to wield a very vivid and visceral imagination that translates graphically to the page. Actually, graphic is the most accurate word to sum up her style, and to clue new readers in to the NC-17 warning all of her work deserves. And Guises is no exception.

Within Guises, Jacob explores endless variations of the masks -- literal and figurative -- that hide human frailties and reveal the true nature of the wearer. From the works of art in the titular story to the seemingly surface attraction of the weary hero of "The Piper," the nature of the camouflage ranges from the breathtakingly beautiful to heart-stopping horror. And sometimes, the extremes are indistinguishable from each other. Such is the makeup of appearances.

One of the most effective stories, "The Santa Ana Winds," is a brief and chilling tale wherein it is impossible to discern how much of the masks surrounding a grieving woman are genuine and how much are a reflection of her own beliefs. Perhaps more important is the face she reveals to the nightmarish world of her existence.

In Guises, all parties are in disguise; it is recognizing that truth that is essential to drawing every nuance from the stories.

"Four Elements And An Emphatic Moon" takes the deceptive nature of exteriors to a higher level, leading readers through incarnations of the body as well as transformations of the face, in a tale of obsession and hide-and-seek across the span of history. The endlessly searching Crainte dons her masks to follow doggedly after one of the other focuses of Jacob's work: love, or at least something that looks like it from the inside.

Make no mistake; seen from the outside, there is little within these dark stories and poems that could be genuinely classified as love. Within Jacob's lush prose there is an excess of emotion, but few would put it down to such tender feelings. In Guises, as in virtually all of her work, Jacob returns again and again to the explicit dissection of all things sexual. She handles it deftly, disturbingly, never more than a twist of phrase from another excursion into her peculiar take on sex at its most repulsive.

If there is a weakness to Guises, it is the fault uncovered whenever Jacob's work is seen in collection. Taken separately, each story's impact is a solid body blow, but read in concentration the examination of sex loses its power and begins to feel like just one more obsession -- this time of the author. One begins to await the next graphic encounter with more ennui than apprehension. There is a point at which another focus would be extremely welcome, amidst the constant flogging of a mortally wounded, if not dead, horse.

Will that minor caveat turn any readers away? Hardly. Charlee Jacob has not gotten to her impressive domination of the horror field by disappointing fans, and those fans know exactly what they're getting into with Guises.

Copyright © 2002 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

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