Two stories in the October issue of Realms of Fantasy stood out: Saint’s Paw, by Alan Smale, and Halloween, by Euan Harvey.
Halloween made it pretty clear that I am a wuss when it comes to horror. The story was a selection of creeeepy vignettes of the kind that kids love because it keeps them up at night and then they can lie in their beds quivering with fear because the masks are real, the thing under the bed will grab you, the boyfriend who turns into a monster never was a boyfriend and always was the monster, and so on. Harvey’s bio says that he “fear-tests” his stories on his kids. I predict that we’ll be hearing about Mr. Harvey’s children on the police blotter pages in a few years.
In Alan Smale’s Saint’s Paw, all Rachel did was try to dissect her dead father. He was already dead! He wasn’t even using his body anymore! But, like, everyone overreacted, and she takes shelter in St. Stephan’s Church, which has a few skeletons in its closet as well.
Much to like about this story, beginning with the heroine’s smart, dry-eyed, dispassionate self-awareness and the manner of her deliverance. There were many good bits, but my favorites were these (pardon typos):
Was anything in this church genuine?
St. Stephan was out of her system. Yet right in front of her was a man who had treated her like a side of beef just seconds before, a man whose laughter would have rung in her ears as they humiliated her. …. Rachel went for him under her own steam, rage filling her.
Pick up a copy. There’s good stuff inside.