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Casting Shadows
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The Horror Zine Review

Casting Shadows: A Collection of Dark Tales and Poems

by E.J. Tett, Joleen Kuyper, and Jo Robertson

Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: lulu.com (February 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1409284158
ISBN-13: 978-1409284154

Casting Shadows

Casting Shadows: A Collection of Dark Tales and Poems

by E.J. Tett, Joleen Kuyper, and Jo Robertson

Review by Mike Kerins

Weird Sisters, Norns or the Fates, these writers seem to be the latest incarnation of three, weaving their dark tales with all the delicacy of a spider’s web.

The collection is a slim volume but has a decidedly cohesive feel to it, as if the three are all of one mind; conjuring from the darkness subtle narratives that have at times an ethereal quality about them; often touched with humour, sometimes turned on their head by stark reality, as in the poem Monsters or in the elliptical tale, We Saw Him, its oblique minimalism offers our imaginations the opportunity to supply the horror and dread, as the truth slowly unfolds before us.

Joleen Kuyper’s tale is then a brief but effective warning to those who might dabble in things they don’t fully understand and a possible metaphor for unknown dangers innocently summoned via the internet.

Monsters, tackles the difficult theme of child abuse with consummate skill, the rhymes flow, washing over us; a stream of imagery reminiscent of European fairy tales that in their original form warn of life’s horrors. The poem follows this ancient, oral female tradition, echoes of Little Red Riding Hood can be found in its subtle exploration of feminine subjugation by the male.

‘She was a werewolf, a demon, a witch,’ the monsters of childhood, sequestered, in an effort to cope with the terrors of the situation are used as an empowering mechanism. The inhabitants of myth and legend become her courage and inspiration as she fights to take control of her own life.

‘His skin was wrinkled and covered in age spots,’ also reveal the  corruption of the man, the moral decay inherent within the beast, at once an archetypal monster of fairy tale, like the wolf or the troll and yet familiar to us all; that ordinary face, seen on the evening news as we sit comfortably in our homes.

The poems are slipped like shafts of dark light between the stories and consistently hit their mark; the brevity of titles, both stories and poems, give the merest of hints as to what will follow, avoiding the cumbersome expositional titles of lesser volumes.

The tale Omen is brief and poetic and succeeds in describing in just a few hundred words, what many have failed to do with thousands. An apocalyptic vision, the beached whale is symbolic of a possible environmental disaster. Our narrator describes, how over the period of a month, she has witnessed the veneer of civilization crumble, ‘Still she had switched on, half expecting East enders to continue when the world around it was dying.’

Described by Jo Robertson’s lyrical prose, death and decay become things of beauty. Mankind’s symbolic demise is seen through the narrator’s final moments, ‘She closed her eyes and let the water cover her face completely.’ This then is followed by a message of hope, if not for mankind, then for the rest of the planet as, ‘The gulls continued to swirl and dip in the empty sky.’ Life goes on.       

The book conveys the glassy tranquillity of a mountain lake but beneath its surface unspeakable things writhe and squirm. Around its edges the dark forests of our imaginations lie and beneath the canopy whispered things, conjured by the three, drift eerily to us. They gaze into the fire, casting shadows; inviting us to join them in their own strange world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy Casting Shadows HERE.

Casting Shadows is an anthology of short stories and poetry by a trio of authors.

About the authors

E.J. Tett

EJ Tett

E.J. Tett is the author of The Kingdom of Malinas, a young adult fantasy novel that contains neither wizards nor vampires, but does have a really big dragon and lots of sword fights. She would like to point out that she does not enjoy wine, cooks very badly, and has never been asked to dance nude in Paris, though she has done a photo shoot involving a camel...in Somerset.  

Joleen Kuyper

Joleen Kuyper

Joleen Kuyper has been writing stories and poems for a long time but it’s only in recent years she has been using a computer to do so. This was a very fortunate development for her, as Joleen’s handwriting is more difficult to decipher than most types of hieroglyphic – usually even she can’t read it. Her imagination tends to get carried away sometimes, so she relies on long evenings with lots of red wine to help keep her grounded. Her husband, dogs and cats have learned to live with her strange ways, although she suspects this may be because she’s a good cook. On occasion, she also enjoys painting purple streaks in her hair and wearing shoes with really big heels even though she’s already quite tall.  

Jo Robertson

Jo Robertson

Jo Robertson really hates writing bios. Some things she enjoys more are horror movies, tormenting random people in bars with her karaoke efforts, wearing black and sitting around on the sofa with her sister drinking wine. She skillfully disguises her creative side in her day to day work, choosing to release it stealthily at home by writing with varying degrees of success, and painting with almost an exclusive lack of success. She is mildly addicted to changing her hair colour and was once approached in a Parisian bar by the owner of a burlesque agency enquiring whether she would like to earn money by spinning around nude in a giant champagne glass. She is currently still considering this offer.

About the reviewer

Mike Kerins

Mike Kerins

Mike Kerins works for a Manchester-based magazine as the resident cartoonist. Mike’s illustrations and poster designs for various Union publications/campaigns and political cartoons have been exhibited in Manchester’s Green Room and have won awards.

Having gained BA Honours Degrees in Literature at The University of Manchester, Mike has done journalistic work for the BBC, which included interviewing veterans of World War II.

Having also received a degree in Illustration and Animation from Manchester Metropolitan University, Mike tried his hand at book illustration, working for Tartarus Press, a small press that produces high quality, limited editions, mostly by authors of the weird and supernatural where he feels he fits right in. Mike supplied the frontispiece illustration for Strange Tales 2, an anthology of short stories. That book was recently nominated for the World Horror Guild Award.