(Disclosure: I received an electronic copy from the author for review purposes.)
Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these twelve tales of Southern Gothic horror:
Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….
These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.
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With such a specific theme, author Eden Royce has set herself a lofty challenge – to compile a collection that is both cohesive and varied in its content. And for the most part, she has succeeded admirably. The stories in Spook Lights are rich in atmosphere, showcasing the setting to great effect. There are some recurring motifs – love, lust and betrayal, revenge and dark magic – but there are also some surprises, such as the curiously hopeful “Path of the War Chief”, and the short but imaginative (and one of my favourites from the collection) “Hand of Glory”.
Royce is a skilled storyteller, but more importantly, her stories ring with authenticity; reading them, you get the feeling that, if she hasn’t cast a few spells herself, she has kept close company with those who have. With this collection, she honours the tales and traditions of the American South.
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About the author:
Eden Royce is descended from women who practiced root, a type of conjure magic in her native Charleston, South Carolina. She currently lives in Kent, The Garden of England, with her husband and a maniacal black cat named Samurai.
Eden’s stories have been called “a fist in a velvet glove” (Roma Gray, author of Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon), “atmospheric, unforgettable, and haunting” (Crystal Connor, author of The Spectrum Trilogy) and she has been praised for bringing “a refreshing perspective to the table that paranormal lovers are sure to enjoy.” (B.D. Bruns, author of The Gothic Shift).