Thursday, October 20, 2011

Supernatural Noir

I picked up this collection of short stories with the idea I would read a few and then do a quick review. The concept is a little lost on me. Noir is a genre that often includes the Mafia and private detectives. It's not a genre I read (with some exceptions). But I didn't think about that when I selected this book from NetGalley. I love horror and supernatural and that was all I saw.
This book was an odd collection. The reason I say the concept is lost on me is that I didn't get the reason why some of these stories were considered Noir vs just horror or paranormal. Quite a few stories didn't fit into my understanding of the Noir genre. That may be due to my inexperience with the genre. No matter.
This collection was beyond my expectations. Most of the stories were dark and creepy just they way I like them. Some didn't reveal their supernatural element till nearly the end which lulled me into believing someone had let just a good story slip through.
Some felt forced but those were few compared to the number that just sucked me in and left me wondering when it was over. I couldn't put it down. When I hit that last page, I was disappointed. I wanted more.
Reviewing collections is always difficult for me because I have a difficult time sharing stories without wanting to sit down and talk about each one. Supernatural Noir had sixteen stories and that's a lot to share. I didn't love them all, in fact I think the first story was my least favorite but it still pushed me to continue. I think the first story "The Dingus" gave me a real noir experience as a man searches for a killer only to find that it's not what he expected. (Later a story talks about a dingus that is completely different and really made me feel like this story was more bizarre).
To say what is my favorite is hard but I can tell you which will stick with me for awhile.
The Absent Eye - a story of a boy who loses his eye to discover he can see these strange spirits. Eventually left in an institution he learns how to communicate and agrees to discover what happens to them when they disapper so that the spirits will help him escape. It's a haunting story about commitment and the lengths a person will go for freedom.
Along those same lines is But For Scars about a young woman who escapes an institution because her mother's ghost haunts her bed. The girl makes her way to her old house to find one of her mother's lovers living there. She kills herself in his room, leaving the ghosts with him. (That's a terrible explanation and you will understand when you read it but it's the best I can do).
I do think I have a favorite now that I think about it some more - The Last Triangle. A man finds himself in withdrawal in an elderly woman's garage. She lets him stay and helps him get straight. What she wants in return is his help to save a life. A powerful, touching story about faith, compassion and strength that still makes me feel things long after I have read it.
Pick up a copy of Supernatural Noir. I will warn, this is not a book for children. There is swearing but that's the least of the problems after all the violence and sex. A fun read for any adult who likes paranormal/supernatural and wants to see a different sort of darkness when it comes to the world.

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