By Paul McAvoy

Illustrated by Emily Veinglory

Reviewed by Gary McMahon

Paul McAvoy's collection is another in the expanding line of D-Press titles, low-cost chapbooks from both new and more established authors that act as a showcase for the writer and the artist who provides the illustrations.

The talented Emily Veinglory, who does a fine job in evoking the atmosphere of each tale, ably illustrates this collection. Her striking cover image is a standout piece, and captures the mood of the prose inside the book.

And so, to the stories.

Vice Versa is a well-told and rather fun story of two women who form an unlikely friendship. Each wants to be just a little bit like the other, and the discovery of a book of magic and witchcraft in a second-hand bookstore leads to a symbiosis that neither of them quite had in mind. Despite the slightly stilted dialogue, I enjoyed this tale, and thought the premise clever and interesting.

The Legend of Abagail is the story of an unusual haunting which covers the themes of revenge, regret and childhood wrongdoings. There is some nice imagery here, but the rhythm of the dialogue didn't seem like that spoken by teenagers in the age and social group of the ones in the tale. Despite this, it's a strong ghostly tale.

The Wedding Job is something quite different. I wasn't quite as taken with this tale of family rivalry and occult practices as I was with some of the other pieces here. That's not to say that it's a bad story, but I just felt that the sterling work throughout the story was let down by a slightly bland conclusion.

The Haunting of Number 11 is far better fare, and ends the collection on a high note. This concerns another haunting with a difference, this one with a distinctly modern spin: a haunted bus! The story is probably my favourite in the collection, possessing a depth of passion that is sometimes lacking in the rest of the tales.

All-in-all, I thought The Dark Within a good solid read. Paul McAvoy writes nice clean (although sometimes too clean, and a little bit distancing) readable prose, and offers some interesting variations on standard genre situations. In short, he spins a good yarn, and there are far worse compliments to give a writer than that!

The Dark Within, A5, 36pp, £1.00 incl p&p

For further details of how to purchase, visit the Bookshop here.

Return to Whispers review archive