“Secret Keeper” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Reviewed by Christos Antonaros
In the “Secret Keeper” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam the ghost of the school is nothing but an outcast, nobody wants to speak to her or hang out with her. The ghost of the school is alone and slowly gets forgotten, hidden behind the walls of her high school’s musical theater. She doesn’t like how most of the girls sing, until one day Chrissie appears, her favorite singer. Nevertheless, Chrissie needs help to show her talents, and nobody loves Chrissie more than the ghost to care enough to teach her. Chrissie is young and in high-school, and her friends are telling her she needs to have some fun and that she doesn’t need to study music all day long. The ghost of the school disagrees and hates Chrissie’s friends who try to take her away. Chrissie’s friends, however, are unaware that no matter how far Chrissie goes the ghost will be there, with her.
This is a dark story influenced by the “Phantom of the Opera” and successfully narrated. Each character is carefully treated by the writer, managing to make each character interesting in such a way that you want to read more and more. As an admirer of the original story, I enjoyed this version.
Next, comes the short story “The Narrow Escape of Zipper-Girl” by Adam-Troy Castro, where the protagonist is obsessed with the zipper girl. It was her zipper strained across her throat, drawing a diagonal line that made him attracted to her, and only that, nothing more. It was the zipper that kept him next to her, making love to her, and faking laughter at her jokes. But she loves him, she wants him to be next to her because of her personality, not just the zipper, and soon she is going to know that he is not there for any other reason than the zipper on her neck.
The way the author describes his protagonist’s obsession and how this obsession builds into a series of dangerous and ill thoughts is remarkable. I enjoyed both readings and listening to the story, for the broadcast is told by the legendary Stefan Rudnicki. From the first sentence to the last I followed a man’s growing mania, questioning if it was going to end well, and it ended perfectly.
Christos Antonaros is a Dark Fantasy author with a love of Mythology and fried food.