Diabolical Plots #78, August 2021
“Fermata” by Sarah Fannon
“The Art and Mystery of Thea Wells” by Alexandra Seidel
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Two dark fantasies involving women and the arts appear in this issue.
The narrator of “Fermata” by Sarah Fannon moves into her childhood home after her mother, a clarinetist, dies. Her memories of life with her mother are unhappy ones, and she tries to fight them off by repainting all the rooms in the house. After she paints the mirror in her mother’s bedroom, an eerie silence descends upon the house.
This is a compelling tale of a subtle haunting, which makes use of the symbolism of music and silence to convey the narrator’s ambiguous feelings about her mother. By portraying her childhood as one of quiet emotional discomfort, rather than overt abuse, the author draws the reader into the narrator’s disturbed state of mind, adding greatly to the story’s impact.
“The Art and Mystery of Thea Wells” by Alexandra Seidel takes the form of a nonfiction article describing a series of paintings by a female artist. All of these depict her lover, a mysterious woman, in a series of increasingly surreal and disturbing images. It becomes obvious that these relate to the artist’s seemingly supernatural demise.
The author brings the paintings to life in vivid word pictures. This skill with prose serves a plot that will seem familiar to readers of horror fiction.
Victoria Silverwolf is not an artist or musician.