Whispers of Wickedness 13, Summer 2006. D-Press. Pp. 60. £3.00.

Reviewed by Simon Mahony

This independent, low budget publication in handy pocket size A5 is packed with a variety of tales ranging from the seriously disturbing to the somewhat absurd: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and (sometimes) provoking art work. With a simple layout it is (as it was for this reviewer) a welcome travelling companion with each offering short enough so as not to be disturbed by the punctuations to our peace brought by the food and drink that are designed to prevent sleep in European air-travel.

The opener by John Saxon, ‘Soft Flesh, Cold Steel’, has a seriously creepy and downright sleazy illustration by Viéve Forward evoking the worst aspects of this gruesome tale of lust that knows no bounds. Told in an interesting (though predictable) reverse chronology the reader discovers the events that lead up to that first encounter with the protagonist, his leering grin and tube of lube.

More thought provoking is ‘The Dead Which Were In It’, by Barry J. House. Wracked by the guilt of ignoring rather than acting on the premonition of his father's death, Nicholas, who senses the changes in a person's aura, looks forward to his rehabilitation away from the sanatorium and towards the anticipated solitude of the lighthouse. This is the longest of the stories; one that is coloured with imaginative language and paints its picture with well crafted prose that does credit to both the author and the selectors.

Being new to WOW I'm not quite sure what ‘The Blue Pootle Column’ is all about. Glancing quickly at an earlier edition, I see it's a regular feature and I guess with more exposure to this humorous interlude (or is that 'comic relief'?) featuring in this edition Ronnie Corbett and Mr Spock, I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Steven Pirie interviews the writer and publisher Storm Constantine in a piece titled ‘Where Science And Magic Meet’. Storm talks about the support and encouragement of new writers; the market place has changed and publishers, large and small, need to respond. When asked about the creative process Storm interestingly admits that she doesn't "really know how it happens" (p. 21). Perhaps in true Socratic fashion the Muse speaks through her. Now wouldn't that be an interesting thought?

Another provoking artwork, this time by Bob Veon, alludes to the underlying theme of Jason Gaskell's ‘The Therapist’. This new age loan shark-cum-therapist has his own agenda where the 'contract' must never be broken. The plot hangs together well and the characterization is believable if stereotypical.

The second non-fiction entry is by Terry Grimwood and called, ‘Pyewacket And Vinegar Tom: The Story Of The Witchfinder General’. Short and to the point I at first though that this was the screenplay for a new movie by the Hammer House of Horror until I looked in the contents. If this is to be considered fact then it might help if the author gave the reader some indication of his sources—historical biography or collected internet searches? How seriously should we consider what we find here?

‘But It Pours’ by Rhys Hughes is a fanciful piece of fun which reminds this reviewer of something but he cannot remember what. That may in fact be the point in this shop that sells rain—but special rain!

Seriously disturbing, partly by its simplicity and partly by the matter-of-fact way it gradually introduces it's dark secret, ‘Pretty Much Damn Near Perfect’ by Alison J. Littlewood is the gem that sparkles (or is that ... ?) amongst this collection. This loving couple seem pretty much damn near perfect and wouldn't we all like that? The simple picture of domestic happiness reveals its disturbing foundations as the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into the twisting plot that is their love.

Closing this edition are two short pieces: ‘The Way to A Man's Heart: Ask Dr. Lippman’ by Kristine Ong Muslim with some interesting patient problems; Peter Tennant's ‘The Tower Struck By Lightning’ is short and sweet with a not altogether unanticipated twist at the end where the ambiguity of the Tarot is lost on its reader.

Some poems are also included in this edition by Greg Schwartz and Alexis Child which together with the artwork bind this volume in the tradition of darkness, the macabre and creepy while still remaining readable and excellent value. Despite a few reservations this volume as a whole comes strongly recommended and I await the next instalment.

Subscribe to Whispers of Wickedness

Home Current Back Issues Guidelines Contact About Fiction Artists Non-fiction Support Links Reviews News