Nightmare #41, February 2016

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Nightmare Magazine #41, February 2016

No other Men in Mitchell” by Rose Hartley

Princess” by Dennis Etchison

Reviewed by Robert L Turner III

Set in Australia, “No other Men in Mitchell” concerns a man recovering consciousness in a hospital after a long bout of illness. Unfortunately he suffers from locked-in syndrome and no one realizes that he has returned from his coma. While in this state, he has to decide if he wishes to stay in this world or continue on towards the afterlife. Although this is a decent story, Rose Hartley doesn’t manage to do much with it. There are some slice of life elements of lower class Outback existence, some supernatural elements, and a little pathos, but the story isn’t particularly engaging.

Princess” is an excellent example of a tale of dread. Set during a dark and stormy night a family heads towards an audition for princesses at a Disney-like amusement park, with a small stop on the way. Dennis Etchison manages to suggest without saying, a world of family conflict, financial need, displaced adolescence and more. The final result is a creepy tale that leaves the reader mentally creating all the horrorific elements that never make it to the page. The final conversation between the two sisters is especially heart rending and disturbing. At under 2300 words, this is a story to catch if you have any interest in the genre or just want to see how less can be more in writing.

Robert Turner is a professor and long term SF reader.