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Satan's Rose Garden and Other Tales of Terror
Alan M. Etheridge and Bill M. Etheridge
Alan M. Etheridge, 317 pages

Satan's Rose Garden and Other Tales of Terror
Alan M. Etheridge and Bill M. Etheridge
Alan M. Etheridge has written three solo works and he is co-author on Satan's Rose Garden and Other Tales of Terror with Bill M. Etheridge, his father.

ISFDB Bibliography: Alan M. Etheridge
ISFDB Bibliography: Bill M. Etheridge

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

As soon as I realized that this was a self-published book by an unknown (to me) couple of writers (father and son, no less), I started to wonder why on Earth I had been asking for this review copy and to be overwhelmed by tragic misgivings. Why had I chosen to review the book? To be frank, because the title Satan's Rose Garden and Other Tales of Terror sounded promising. For once there was no attempt to disguise horror fiction under deceiving, more pretentious labels, here I had a honest title declaring at once what a reader could expect.

After finishing the book I must say that my misgivings were unfounded, but my expectations were not quite fulfilled.

The title story, by Alan M. Etheridge, is a dark novella, which turned out to be good and on the whole, very well written. It is a modern gothic tale of incest, murder and possession, the first part of which is really enticing and very effective, graced with a steady and captivating narrative pace. By contrast, the second half of the novella becomes less accomplished, the plot a bit shaky and the general style a little too much on the "action thriller" side. I won't spoil the pleasure of discovering the story's charm by giving away details of the plot, where horrors from the past still linger, more powerful than ever, at the present time.

The rest of the volume is constituted by six short stories authored by Bill M. Etheridge (the son), under the dubious denomination of "tales of terror." Truth be told, there's precious little of terrific nature in those tales (hence, a certain disappointment on my part).

"More As Way of Life Than A Job" is an enjoyable piece exploring the darker side of clowns and magicians playing at the circus and "The Ideal Woman" is a well-told story about a young man obsessed for years with a desirable but unreachable woman whom at last he'll meet again under unforeseen circumstances.

The remaining pieces, however, are just sketchy vignettes depicting a nice guy going berserk ("Fed Up"), the dangers of virtual encounters on the net ("Friend Request"), a cheated husband unable to deal with his predicament ("Thinking and Waiting"), and a peculiar case of psychic vampirism ("New Vampirism").

It's hard to judge the potential of Bill, who seems to be a promising, but still a bit unripe, horror writer.

For the time being I'm more impressed by Alan, and I'm looking forward to reading more material of his before passing a definitive judgment. At any rate, better keep an eye on both guys…

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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