6 April 2014

Noir Carnival

Noir Carnival
edited by K A Laity

This anthology from Fox Spirit Books is the second book in the Noir series, edited by the impressive K A Laity. These are dark stories with noir sensibilities, supernatural flavours and the smell of popcorn, candy floss, motor oil and fear. The settings vary in place and time, and the tone shifts between spooky, thrilling, creepy, tense, fantastical and cynical. The stories rattle between fantastical crime, dark fantasy and horror, genre boundaries blurring as the book passes by, like a motley collection of caravans. There are feisty heroines, doomed heroes, dangerous villains and desperate folk of all manner, just peer through the curtain.

The anthology was absorbing and most of the stories were powerful. I confess that there were several stories that are darker than I usually go. I don't consider myself much of a horror reader, so some stories and images really provoked a reaction and got into my brain. A sign of the strength of the writing, even if its not what I normally look for. Noir is not a genre/style/tone I'm very familiar with, but I have enough of a sense of it to know that these stories were well chosen, there is a certain bleakness to them. This is not say I didn't enjoy the book. It was outside my comfort zone in places, but I enjoyed the variety of the stories and the inventiveness of the ideas. Many of the settings, quiet little towns, run-down places, were created economically and with skill. Travelling shows occupy a kind of border territory in society, and it makes sense that weird things would happen in such spaces, and the breadth of the weird and macabre here is truly impressive.

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