ROPE TRICK: THIRTEEN STRANGE TALES by Mark P. Henderson. Ashcroft, BC; Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2008. 1st edition hardcover.
ISBN: 978-1-55310-107-9; xviii+190pp;
Limited to 400 copies.
Jacket art by Jason Zerrillo.
PUBLISHED JUNE 2008.
A HOUSE WITH A SINISTER HISTORY; dark shadows; creaking doors; thunderstorms; disappearing corpses; tombs with cryptic inscriptions; mysterious, half-seen figures. There are those who assert that a good supernatural tale must include at least one of these stereotypical trappings, but Mark P. Henderson would beg to differ. He accepted the challenge of writing a supernatural tale which would not feature any of these clichés, but which would still be creepy and sinister. The resulting story was 'Rope Trick', published in the award-winning Ash-Tree Press anthology Acquainted With The Night,, and described by one reviewer as 'profoundly unsettling'.
All of the stories in Rope Trick: Thirteen Strange Tales could be described as unsettling. Eschewing the clichés and conventions of the genre, Henderson has created stories which explore the interactions not only between people and places, but between the histories that make up those people and places. His characters are, for the most part, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances who, being only human, attempt to apply reason to observations and events which defy all attempts at rationalisation, only to find their attempts unsatisfactory at best, and fatal at worst.
Readers who enjoy thoughtful, elegant, and assured tales of the uncanny will find much to savour in Rope Trick: Thirteen Strange Tales. Henderson's stories will evoke that 'pleasing terror' to be found in the best supernatural tales, and with nary a creaking door or disappearing corpse in sight.
Introduction (by the author);
An Incident in Drereton;
The Well Dresser;
Rome Will Rise Again;
What Became of April.
Fine in fine dj.