Valancourt. Nov. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781954321052. pap. $16.99. HORROR
Tem, whom today’s horror creators regularly cite as an inspiration, shows off his captivating and unsettling style in this collection of 21 tales, including four new to this volume. Steeped in realism and focusing on universal fears like illness, storms, death, regret, and loss, Tem’s tales quickly and satisfyingly shift the plot askew, dropping speculative elements and roping in maximum unease and fear. Marked by a confident narrative voice and intriguing story lines, the stories will easily draw readers into their emotional situations and carefully crafted, intimate worlds. The atmospheric “Heterocera” is a moving portrait of aging, framed by a moth infestation, while “August Freeze” is a terrifying story about a troubled couple stuck in an unnaturally dangerous place. “Reflections in Black” is a must-read Halloween tale.
VERDICT Tem has won just about every major speculative fiction prize (including a 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Blood Kin), but he has slipped through the cracks because his work doesn’t fit neatly into established genre boxes. Library workers can make up for this oversight by confidently suggesting this collection to fans of creepy, weird fiction by the likes of Carmen Maria Machado and John Langan.
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