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No-Man And Other Tales
Tony Richards
Pendragon paperback £9.99

review by Mario Guslandi

For those who get easily bored with long horror novels and who find short stories too brief, novellas are a rara avis to pursue and savour. Here's a book, then, that will represent for those readers a real treat: four novellas from the pen of an excellent writer assembled for the first time in one volume published by the small but lively British imprint Pendragon Press.

Two novellas (Postcards From Terri and Under The Ice) have previously appeared in a hardcover, limited edition from Sarob Press, two are published here for the first time.

Postcards From Terri cannot be easily labelled in terms of literary genre. Partly a ghost story, partly a dark romance, it's a tale of love obsession and of psychic possession. It has some wonderful sections in which the story flows effortlessly and a few parts making suspension of disbelief a bit hard.

Under The Ice is a chilling piece set in a chilly Helsinki, where a young man wishes for the return of his dead brother thus triggering a series of tragic events. Attempting to blend themes such as brotherly love, betrayal and the choice of the wrong wish with the atmosphere of a zombie tale, the story manages to entertain even though ultimately lacks heart.

The two unpublished novellas bookend this collection. No-Man is a superb twilight-zone story where a young boy meets an incorporeal alien entity that, as in a modern version of Aladdin's lamp, will help him to fulfil his desires. Thought-provoking and disturbing, the piece explores the unfathomable abysses of the human soul, showing once again how dangerous can be to obtain what we believe we want in our lives.

In the complex and breathtaking A Black Glass Slipper time-honoured subjects such as the femme fatale, a pact with the devil, and shape-shifting, represent the main ingredients. The result is a fine supernatural thriller endowed with the graphic quality of an action movie.

The new material included in the present collection is the living proof that Richards is getting better and better as a storyteller and a creator of well carved characters. Which is good news not only for the fans of novellas but for any lover of solid and entertaining dark fiction.
No-Man and other tales by Tony Richards

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