Douglas Clegg, Isis
(Cemetery Dance, 2006; Vanguard, 2009)

Douglas Clegg's novella Isis evokes a time when horror fiction was cerebral, like Poe, rather than visceral, like every slasher film to hit the big screen in the past few decades.

Clegg doesn't spatter readers with gore; he haunts them with feelings of loss and remorse. And the dead who wander here don't rend flesh or crave brains for sustenance; they linger in a much more painful, pitiful state.

Iris Villiers, an imaginative and thoughtful girl transplanted at a young age from a seeming island paradise to Belerion Hall on a grey Cornish moor, finds pleasure only in the company of her older brother, Harvey. But their idyllic escapes from grim reality end in tragedy, and Iris seeks solace in the dark supernatural lore of her wretched home. But what she wants -- and gets -- is not necessarily what she expected.

Isis fits neatly, I am told, into Clegg's ongoing Harrow series of books. I am not familiar with Clegg's other writings, but Isis stands alone as a dark, lyrical tale of sadness and regret. It is a short but spooky read that will stick with you long after the pages are closed.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

24 October 2009

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