The Horror Zine Review
by Susie Moloney
|Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: ChiZine Publications (December 31, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
by Susie Moloney
Review by Jeani Rector
Susie Moloney writes the way I like to read—she starts with action, in the middle of the event, and then weaves the explanations into the body of the story. Speaking as an editor, I think all new writers could benefit from reading Things Withered to learn excellent techniques about how great writing is done, because this book has been written by a master.
I first discovered Moloney when I picked up a copy of The Dwelling (also known as 362 Belisle Street) because I liked the cover of that one. Little did I know this first book would be the start of a love affair. I eagerly sought out another book by Moloney and found A Dry Spell, which is such an amazing book that I have re-read that one about three times just to savor the uniqueness of her characters.
And Moloney’s characters are definitely unique. They are delightfully quirky yet she makes them seem so real that they could be your co-worker or your next door neighbor. But what really grabs me is Moloney’s ability to create a subtle terror in her plotlines; the suspense creeps up on the reader slowly which brings a surprise factor in its own right.
So when Things Withered came across my desk, I eagerly (and selfishly) decided to not send it out to another reviewer, but to review it myself. In all honestly, I did not want to miss an opportunity to read a book by Susie Moloney. And as always, I was not disappointed.
Things Withered is yet another example of fresh ideas and original scares. She continues her talent for subtlety. Reading anything by Moloney is pure joy.
Because this is a collection of short stories (the first collection that Moloney has released), I cannot review every story, so instead I will discuss my favorites.
First off, I want to highlight my very favorite story from the book, titled “The Last Living Summer,” a real grabber. Changes occur in a beach town. The air smells like fish and creates a taste of metal on the tongue. When a summer storm erupts, the thunder goes on too long and suddenly the ocean electrocutes its fish. “The Last Living Summer” is a new form of apocalypse story, and its originality makes it a withered thing of beauty.
“The Windemere” is about a realtor showing a very expensive property to a client. It has shades of The Dwelling. Like that book, in this story, people who live in the property die mysteriously. But in this story, the realtor recognizes the pattern and twists it to her own advantage.
“Wife” is a strange story about—well, about a wife. This story is a perfect example of how Moloney uses her flair for creating characters that seem so very real. Karen is a neurotic woman with secrets, and she would do anything to keep those secrets.
“Domestic Happiness” is subtitled “with apologies to Stephen King.” It is a very short story, yet a lot of “ick” is packed into just a few pages. I can see why Moloney subtitled it as thus; the short story contains King-like gruesomeness delivered with her trademark subtlety.
In contrast to “Domestic Happiness,” the last story of the book is a long one. Titled “The Neighborhood, or, To the Devil With You,” this one is about a neighbor who seems to hate children. If a child wanders near Hazel’s property, the deranged woman shouts “The devil with you!”…along with some choice curse words. So the question is: what exactly is Hazel? Some say she is a witch. And Moloney is so good at witches, as can be seen from The Thirteen.
I will wrap up this review by saying if you have not read anything by Susie Moloney, go ahead and start with Things Withered. Like potato chips, you cannot stop at just one. I thought I could with The Dwelling back in about 2006. Ha. I am still eagerly reading and thoroughly enjoying Moloney’s works to this day. You will too. Try Moloney, you will not like her works, you will love them. As an editor, I read a lot of fiction, but anything by Susie Moloney stands out.
You can buy the book HERE
About the author
Susie Moloney was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada. It's fitting then that her very first novel was about a very Canadian phenomenon, a snowstorm that wouldn't quit. Published in 1995 by Key Porter Books, Bastion Falls made Susie's first mark in the world of fiction.
Two years later, her break out novel A Dry Spell was published all over the world, translated into multiple languages, and included a movie option with Cruise-Wagner Pictures, Tom Cruise's production company.
Susie's photo credit: Richard Wagner Photography
About the reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others. Her novel Pestilence: A Medieval Tale of Plague is released by The Horror Zine books.