7 novellas for 7 days of holiday
- 1 of 7: “Carmilla” by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu
- 2 of 7: “Dear Laura” by Gemma Amor
- 3 of 7: “Halloween Fiend” by C. V. Hunt
- 4 of 7: “Rites Of Extinction” by Matt Serafini
1 of 7: “Carmilla” by Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu
This Gothic novella, written 26 years before “Dracula”, influenced Stoker’s masterpiece in many ways, one of the most notable being the deus ex machina, alias Baron Vonderburg, saving the day, just like Professor Abraham Van Helsing does in “Dracula”. I particularly appreciated the rich classical narrative and the delicacy as well as the audacity — the novella was published in 1872! — used to depict the homosexuality so subtly binding the protagonist and the vampire Carmilla, Millarca, Mircalla, you name it. And, by the way, is Dracula a vampire at all? Given the novel is told in an epistolary format, every character expressing personal views, I like to think of it as the story of a poor Romanian nobleman, persecuted by a gang of crazy Englishmen, led by a Dutch mythomaniac. Carmilla, instead, is definitely a vampire, a very charming and lovely one.
2 of 7: “Dear Laura” by Gemma Amor
Obsession. If I were to use only one word to describe “Dear Laura”, it would be obsession. Mr X rapes Laura’s boyfriend the day after their first kiss. Since then, every year, on her birthday, Laura receives a letter from Mr X demanding more and more from her. The root cause why Laura satisfies even the sickest requests, although she knows her first love is already dead, seems to be guilt. Mr X is evidently obsessed with Laura and he enjoys this sordid relationship; and Laura, over the years, develops some form of ‘long-distance Stockholm syndrome’ that prevents her from setting herself free. And obsession is also the word I would use to describe my relationship with this novella, in a good sense, of course: I read it without being able to put it down. Gemma Amor clearly knows what anxiety is and she knows how to effectively render it in words. Gemma is also the author of the deeply unsettling cover illustration.
3 of 7: “Halloween Fiend” by C. V. Hunt
This novella is narrated in first person by an average Joe living in a peculiar town named Strang — just add an “e” at the end of the name and start working on your expectations. The town is haunted by a fiend, referred to as Halloween, demanding an animal sacrifice each night from each resident, and a human sacrifice once a year. Every resident accepts their faith, no one questions the status quo and no one does anything to stop the curse and. On a second tier, I like to read this novella as the metaphor of a life we do not choose, we do not like, and still we do nothing about it. Barry, the protagonist and narrator, has a special relationship with Halloween, but I cannot tell you anymore about it without spoilers. Watch out: the brief closing sentence of the novella is a game changer; do not read it in advance or you will ruin everything! Just let the author lead you through this twisted and weird tale and enjoy it!
4 of 7: “Rites Of Extinction” by Matt Serafini
I loved “Rites Of Extinction”! This novella is a blood-soaked, mind-bending, sex-driven, shit-spattered trip in the sick mind of Rebecca, a former police officer, now private investigator, on the hunt for her daughter’s murderer. The erudite narrative, by using the present tense, engages the readers to the point that this book is pretty hard to put down. Matt Serafini creates his own small theogony of “Great Old Ones”, including an XXX-rated version of the “Necronomicon”. The huge difference with H. P. Lovecraft is the fact that every detail here is described in a way that does not leave anything to the readers’ imagination: the author is impressively powerful when it comes to rendering blood, fear, flesh, pain and the like. From another perspective, though, he extraordinarily succeeds in keeping the readers on their toes, and allows them to “believe it or not”: is this really happening or is this just the product of the disturbed mind of a grieving mother, suffering from migraine with aura, losing it day after day? If you love books filled with blood, mystery, perversion (in a never exceeding amount), sickness, violence, and weirdness, you will be definitely fulfilled by this novella!