Ok, on to three
Monsters - Stewart O'Nan. This is the story about a young boy, Mark who is playing with a pellet gun that belongs to his friend Derek. They are shooting bottles, and then the game expands in the way that it does when the pellets are harmless, and the bottles don't break. Something does happen, and this is the story about how everything changes in an instant. It's heartbreaking, and moving, and it hurts. That sense of guilt that Mark feels eats away at him, even though no one blames him, and he is not able to forgive himself. That's where monsters come from,inside us. An amazing story that feels so true, powerful and unsettling - I certainly have felt that guilt, and forgiveness is much harder to do than it sounds, especially towards one's self. Oh, and no one dies, so don't avoid the story out of fear that it's like that. It's much more subtle.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black. A vampire story, but not like any you've ever read before. Vampires are caused by a virus that mutates, an infection that sets in when you are bitten. If you get a taste of human blood after being bitten, you become a vampire. If you don't? Well, read what happens to Matilda, who has been bitten, and is trying to not become a vampire. Then her friend Dante finds her, and tells her the boy she loves has crossed over into Coldtown - so named, because every city and town has a Cold area barricaded, where all the vampires live - along with Dante's sister. They are both still human and alive. There is only one reason to go to Coldtown, however. What Matilda does will chill your heart and make you cry at the same time. An amazing story, one of the best short stories I've read about vampires. As Guran says in her end note, you will want to know more about Matilda, and Cold Town, after. I certainly do. Fascinating.
The third short story I read is from The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, edited by Michael Cox and R.A. Gilbert:
The Upper Berth - F. Marion Crawford. A haunted berth on a passenger ship, and a narrator who is a no-nonsense kind of man, until he meets the - thing that haunts the berth. It is a ghost/dead thing that will make your hair stand on end. awful in its wrongness. It is written in 1886, so Victorian in tone and attitude, for those who like the early ghost stories. I liked this one, it reminded me that ghosts are all about the unknown, and the uncanny, and that to be touched or in the presence of one, reminds us in our core that it's not the natural way of things. The Upper Berth is available here, online.
All these stories rate 5/5. Have you read any of them? How is your short story reading for RIP? I'm so excited that I wrote reviews for short stories for RIP! They are all so very good, you have to check them out if you can. Go on, I dare you.
And now for something completely (but not so unrelated) different:
Sidenote: I was just exploring online to see if I could find Monsters online as well for you to read. Well, I found this instead, a review of Stewart O'Nan's new book, The Odds. It's set in Niagara Falls. Now before you wonder what I'm on about, I just went on my summer holidays to Niagara Falls, last month. I hadn't been there since a child, and I wanted to show my soon-to-be ex husband and children the Falls. We had a fantastic holiday, one of the best ever. So to find out that O'Nan's book is set there - and the main couple go there to see if their thirty-year marriage can be rekindled or if it's over, because the Falls are one of the Honeymoon capitals in North America. (We didn't go for that reason, and all my romantic prone friends are dismayed that the Falls didn't work magic on us anyway). Well, you know me, my friends, I had time to look for a bookstore, and eventually found the only one in the central area, a second-hand bookstore called One Page, not so far from our hotel. I even got in while it was open, and bought some books. Well it turns out that Stewart O'Nan likes this store too - see the bottom of the article I've linked you too. Small world......and now I definitely have to read his novel, with Niagara Falls fresh in my mind.
By the way, I LOVE Niagara Falls. Not the Clifton Hill attractions, which are like Blackpool in England only smaller (so my ex says), but the Falls themselves are extraordinary and beautiful. As a child I saw them many times, as most of my family is from the nearby London area. It was fun to go back as an adult and realize they are just as awesome and beautiful as ever. Below are four pictures from our trip. How is this related to the above?
So about the horror RIP link:
Well, my youngest son was determined to see some ghostly or ghastly wax museum. When I went a as child to Niagara Falls, I clearly remember going through the Chamber of Horrors, which was set in the bottom of Louis Tussaud's Wax museum. I would start off slowly, and then when the exhibits got too much for me, I would start running until I was dashing through the exhibit. That was when I was 10. Flash forward to now, 39 years later. We eventually found two wax museums which each had a tiny horror section. My reaction to both was the same: I started off okay, and if it was too dark and the exhibits moved or were too close to us, I began to move faster and faster until I was almost running. My youngest son is most disappointed in me. I failed the 'cool mom can go through a horror museum' test. I think I got clammy hands at one point,and we had to take the short cut through one part. My son kept saying, " They're only statues, mom! they can't move! They're not real!" I kept thinking that something was behind me when I wasn't looking......so that's my real live RIP moment, brought to you courtesy of Niagara Falls. That Freddy Kreuger statue was very life-like and much too close in the passageway.....