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COME CLOSER, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing ch COME CLOSER, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing child with a far more pleasant facsimile? We all know the truth, especially in times like these-in an anxiety-ridden, sleepless world such as ours, it's only ever our very worst dreams that come true. Here streets empty out and people pull themselves apart like amoebas, breeding murderous doppelgangers from their own flesh; houses haunt, ideas possess and a cold and alien moon stares down, whispering that it's time to spawn. New myths rise and ancient evils descend. From the seemingly mundane terrors of a city just like yours to all the most dark and distant places of a truly terrible universe, nothing is as it seems...not even that dimly-recalled cinematic memory you've been chasing all these years, the one you think might be just something you stumbled upon while flipping through channels after midnight. The one that still disturbs you enough to raise a cold sweat all over your body, whenever you try to will its details clear. Hot on the heels of her 2018 This Is Horror Award-winning short story collection Spectral Evidence, critically horror author Gemma Files compiles fifteen more of her most startling recent nightmares-a creepily seductive downward spiral of dark poetry and existential dread, entirely suitable to the slow apocalypse going on all around us. So take your mind off your troubles and send it somewhere the rules still operate, if only to punish those who violate them.


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COME CLOSER, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing ch COME CLOSER, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing child with a far more pleasant facsimile? We all know the truth, especially in times like these-in an anxiety-ridden, sleepless world such as ours, it's only ever our very worst dreams that come true. Here streets empty out and people pull themselves apart like amoebas, breeding murderous doppelgangers from their own flesh; houses haunt, ideas possess and a cold and alien moon stares down, whispering that it's time to spawn. New myths rise and ancient evils descend. From the seemingly mundane terrors of a city just like yours to all the most dark and distant places of a truly terrible universe, nothing is as it seems...not even that dimly-recalled cinematic memory you've been chasing all these years, the one you think might be just something you stumbled upon while flipping through channels after midnight. The one that still disturbs you enough to raise a cold sweat all over your body, whenever you try to will its details clear. Hot on the heels of her 2018 This Is Horror Award-winning short story collection Spectral Evidence, critically horror author Gemma Files compiles fifteen more of her most startling recent nightmares-a creepily seductive downward spiral of dark poetry and existential dread, entirely suitable to the slow apocalypse going on all around us. So take your mind off your troubles and send it somewhere the rules still operate, if only to punish those who violate them.

47 review for In That Endlessness, Our End

  1. 5 out of 5

    Char

    Reading this book was the literary version of walking on the wild side. The dark and wild side. This was my first experience reading Gemma Files' work, but it won't be my last. I've read comparisons to Ligotti and Barron, and even though I think they're comparable, I think Ms. Files holds a distinct spot of her own. IN THAT ENDLESSNESS, OUR END contains a wide array of stories and among the ones I enjoyed most were: THIS IT HOW IT ENDS. I kind of felt a science fiction vibe with one. Maybe I was d Reading this book was the literary version of walking on the wild side. The dark and wild side. This was my first experience reading Gemma Files' work, but it won't be my last. I've read comparisons to Ligotti and Barron, and even though I think they're comparable, I think Ms. Files holds a distinct spot of her own. IN THAT ENDLESSNESS, OUR END contains a wide array of stories and among the ones I enjoyed most were: THIS IT HOW IT ENDS. I kind of felt a science fiction vibe with one. Maybe I was duped? BULB In light of the power outages going on in Texas right now, it's easy for me to imagine that something might be living in the grid. THE PUPPET MOTEL The title of this alone is creepy, but add in the sound, a tone perhaps, "an inhuman frequency." A sound beckoning for you to... COME CLOSER. What happens when that spooky house in neighborhood keeps somehow moving? CUT FRAME Picture old school Hollywood, featuring the dark and mysterious star of B movies, Tamar Dusk. ALWAYS AFTER THREE In their apartment in an old building where renovations are never over-where is that smelling coming from? And why does it only start stinking after 3:00 am? VENIO Draw your door and tell your story! (Really loved this one!) I responded to most of these tales on a visceral level. There is a constant...hum, a certain..tone, that permeates all of the stories in this volume. It sneaks past the factual, logical, Spock-like portions of my brain and speaks directly to that emotional portion, that portion that senses things, that senses things aren't right. It's unsettling and disturbing and I loved every freaking second of it! My highest recommendation! *Thank you to Grimbscribe Press and to the author the paperback ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jack Tripper

    One of the best horror collections I've read in recent years. Each entry is imbued with an eerie atmosphere and feeling of dread, and they're rarely reliant on some twist or shocking ending for their scares. Files' characters feel like actual people as opposed to just being mere vessels for exploring strange happenings, so the reader empathizes with them during their dealings with both the supernatural as well as real-life horrors such as mental breakdowns and personal demons. The stories can be One of the best horror collections I've read in recent years. Each entry is imbued with an eerie atmosphere and feeling of dread, and they're rarely reliant on some twist or shocking ending for their scares. Files' characters feel like actual people as opposed to just being mere vessels for exploring strange happenings, so the reader empathizes with them during their dealings with both the supernatural as well as real-life horrors such as mental breakdowns and personal demons. The stories can be pretty moving at times, heart-rending even, especially when combined with Files' engaging, almost poetic prose, and this gives her tales a unique feel among the coterie of modern weird fiction writers, and stands with the best of them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    I don’t hide the fact that I’m a fan of Gemma Files’ work. Her writerly reputation is solid, and deservedly so. Take, for example, her previous novel, Experimental Film, frankly one of the best horror novels I have read in many, many years. I had read and enjoyed Files’ stories as they appeared in various publications, but felt like she had hit a new watermark with Experimental Film. I was, admittedly, amped-up to read In That Endlessness, Our End. I even pre-ordered it, something I rarely do wi I don’t hide the fact that I’m a fan of Gemma Files’ work. Her writerly reputation is solid, and deservedly so. Take, for example, her previous novel, Experimental Film, frankly one of the best horror novels I have read in many, many years. I had read and enjoyed Files’ stories as they appeared in various publications, but felt like she had hit a new watermark with Experimental Film. I was, admittedly, amped-up to read In That Endlessness, Our End. I even pre-ordered it, something I rarely do with books. But I had pre-ordered Experimental Film and loved it, so I felt that being an early adapter for this collection was a pretty safe bet. And I was right. Like any collection, there are “danglers and outliers,” but really, these fifteen stories hung together quite nicely. There are no bad stories among them. And because of my very high expectations, the one story that I rated at three-stars (out of five) might have just as well had something to do with my mood or something I ate (or didn’t eat) the evenings I spent reading it. Keep in mind that, at three stars, I still liked it. And overall, I loved the collection. The tales are sometimes horrific to the point that you wonder if the author poisoned the pages themselves, but many of them have a subtext of intimacy – not explicit sexual intimacy (though that is implied, in places), but familial intimacy and the intimacy of close friends. This, I think, is what sets Files’ stories here apart from much of the horror field – the foil of these intimate relationships against an uncaring or even inimical universe is profound and stark, casting love and friendship into relief against hatred and selfishness. Note: Hatred and selfishness win out when you least expect it to. Some of these stories are heartbreakers, full stop. Without further ado, here are my (slightly edited) notes from each story: "This is How it Goes" posits a split. I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that doppelgangers are compelled to kill their originals. Many Worlds Theory comes into play here in a quantum apocalypse unlike any other you've read about, guaranteed. The horror comes both from without and from within, the apocalypse arising from and further fomenting the horror of literally facing yourself and conquering your demons. Four stars. "Bulb" skirts the border between creepypasta and cosmic horror. You might not want to turn the lights on after reading this. Makes me want to extend my social media "fasts" indefinitely. If you're at all averse to technology, this story is one giant trigger. A fantastic tale that will have you questioning every source of electricity around you. Five dazzling, electric stars. "The Puppet Motel" is a haunted-house story for the 21st-Century, a modern take on some old tropes that doesn't feel like a modern take on old tropes, but feels like something absolutely unique and terrifying. It's not your "typical" ghost story, but something far more Weird or, when one really thinks about the story, Weird and Eerie, in the Fisher-esque senses of both words. Five stars. So, what happens when the haunted house comes to you? And do you regret taking notice of some things, when you could have lived in blissful ignorance your whole life, but that one thing you took notice of consumes your life, consumes you? The characters in "Come Closer" have to ask these questions. And they don't get the answers they want. The characters here are extremely compelling, making us care for them, despite their broken-ness. Four stars. Take the twitter account Pagan Hollywood, add the Eastern European legends of the Night Hag, and trace the story of an obsession through a multi-document approach, and you get "Cut Frame". I am enamored of all of these things and I absolutely love the method of using disparate documents to point readers to the story behind the story (I am a trained historian, after all). A tragic story leading to the abyss. I love this style of storytelling (both as a reader and as a writer), and Files excels at it. "Sleep Hygiene" is . . . difficult. Because I've seen, up close and personal, a mental breakdown caused by lack of sleep. It's not pretty. It's terrifying. The narrator in this story ends up damaged in ways that, thankfully, the one I know did not. The fact that it hit so close to the mark is a testament to File's ability as a writer. After this, you might not trust a therapist ever again. And, Public Service Announcement here: please, please see that you don’t skimp on sleep. The effects are truly horrific. Five stars; reluctantly. "Always After Three" has a decent premise and characterization. For me, though, it lacked a natural sense of dread, like it was forced. I think it could have been longer to allow the characters and their situation to develop a bit more. I liked it, but didn't love it. Three stars. "Thin Cold Hands" is a morbidly beautiful story of possession, both of the ghostly kind and of the kind that binds mother and daughter in their relationship to one another, even if both parties aren't exactly willing. It's a clever subversion of that relationship, as well as the apocalyptic threat that would arise if such relationships were to multiply as, statistically, they must. Shades of Doris Lessing’s “The Fifth Child” here, folks. Five stars. The collective unconscious has spawned something inexorable in "Venio," and it's coming. The more you try not to think about it, the closer it is. And you want it to be as far away from you as possible. But its visitation is inevitable; only a matter of time. Here Files develops her familiar themes to a sharpened point, leaving the reader no escape, entrapping them in the story. Five stars. Folk horror meets vampirism in the guise of a pseudo-Fisher King in "Look Up". The shifting viewpoint is at times confusing, always kaleidoscopic. The motivations of the main subject seem to ebb and flow, winsome and immature with indecision, then stubborn resolve, then submissive acceptance. Tropes of inheritance, destiny, choice, and change swirl throughout the tale, both clarifying and confusing. Four stars. "The Church in the Mountains" is Files at her best. Varied viewpoints, sepia tones, the hidden interstices of media at once so familiar, yet so alien, the horror of becoming that which we don't want to be, but inevitably must. A written story finds validation in a long-lost film and concludes by folding external reality into internal realization. A symphonic, tenebrous collapse into fate. Five stars. Science fiction or horror? "Distant Dark Places" has an emotional resonance missing from much of modern dark fiction. It's a big story, yet personal, as big as a planet (or three), yet as small as the misfiring gaps in the human neural structure. The tale takes conspiracy theories and "prepping" to a cosmological level, yet never leaves the human sphere. The undulating scope of the story never loses focus. Five stars "Worm Moon" is a highly poetic piece of infestation, metamorphosis, and unwanted discovery. A horrific voyage into a murky realm of self: what was self, what is self, what is to become . . . something else. Four stars. "Halloo" is an utter gut-punch. I don't even know where to begin: the bottle? The therapy? The relationship between Isla and Amaya? Between Isla and her mother and Nan? It's all so wrong and just when you think it's going to turn right, it goes even more wrong. Ugh. This was an excruciating read, but in the good way. Yeah, the good way. Note: Rorcal's album "Mulladonna" was the perfect background music for reading this story. Definitely the right mood. Five stars (to Files and Rorcal)! Much more poignant than horrific, "Cuckoo" asks tough questions of a (autistic?) child's parents. The myths of the Changeling are explored throughout as a means to examine the themes of dedication, love, duty, and disappointment. This is an evocative meditation, if you will, on fate and responsibility, on a universe that gives not one whit about you, and yet calls on you to reach deep to find compassion inside yourself. Five stars. On balance, I am giving In That Endlessness, Our End a full five stars, despite the one story I only "liked," because I loved the rest to varying degrees. I strongly recommend getting the hard copy - believe me, with many of these stories, you'll want to be able to close the pages quickly when you reach the end . . . so you can pull the covers over your head and hide. But you can't. Can't hide. You can't hide; It's coming . . .

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard Martin

    Gemma Files’ latest macabre collection of horror shorts presents us with darkly poetic tales of cursed movies, dream diaries, doppelgangers, family curses, fairies, lost videos, insomniacs, rituals, cosmic cults, deadly secrets, armageddons and remaking the universe. This is an incredibly difficult book to review because it is hard to convey effectively what these stories are about, while simultaneously doing them justice without falling into the trap of either over-simplification or over analys Gemma Files’ latest macabre collection of horror shorts presents us with darkly poetic tales of cursed movies, dream diaries, doppelgangers, family curses, fairies, lost videos, insomniacs, rituals, cosmic cults, deadly secrets, armageddons and remaking the universe. This is an incredibly difficult book to review because it is hard to convey effectively what these stories are about, while simultaneously doing them justice without falling into the trap of either over-simplification or over analysing. Neither is it an easy book to read, but it is an endlessly rewarding one. Anyone who has read Gemma Files horror work before will recognise her incredible talent for maintaining a constant sense of dread and unease throughout all her stories. She deals in themes and subject so cosmically large that there is a real ‘anything goes’ sense, but stories are typically set in an all too familiar down to earth situation. There are the unfathomably powerful and evil forces at work in ‘The Puppet Motel’, living in a Toronto based Airbnb, or the existential terror of ‘Venio’ where a student writing exercise unleashes an unstoppable and inexplicable darkness upon their normal, everyday existence. Each story is grounded in a familiar reality before Files introduces inconceivably high, Lovecraftian-esque stakes with a level of creativity so uniquely her own that you would be hard pushed to find any other horror author writing today so adept at getting to the core at what really frightens people. Some stories are incredibly rich and dense, rewarding those willing to pore over every detail, while some are more straight-forward and accessible, taking the form of a radio interview (‘Bulb’) or fairy-tale inspired monologue (‘Cuckoo’). There are moments of extreme violence (the opening tale, ‘This is How it Goes’ has some truly horrifying imagery), the oddly surreal (‘Come Closer’) and the dream-like (‘Sleep Hygiene’). A lot of these stories genuinely terrified me (reading ‘Cut Scene’ just before bed was a huge mistake) and some are so laden with existential dread (‘Worm Moon’, ‘Distant Dark Places’) that I needed to put the book down and pick up something different before pressing on. While there is a lot of variety, ‘In That Endlessness, Our End’ feels like a very cohesive collection. There are a lot of shared themes, to the point where a lot of the shorts feel very interconnected and, sometimes even a retelling of the same event from a different perspective. I found it to be an incredibly difficult book to put down for long, constantly telling myself ‘just one more’ until the final page. ‘In That Endlessness, Our End’ is a book that defies categorization, but what it undoubtedly is, is a book that will challenge you as it switches so deftly between so many conflicting themes and feelings. It is an incredible collection; one that reminded me just what I love so much about horror fiction and one I cannot recommend highly enough. You can read more reviews of new and upcoming horror releases at https://www.myindiemuse.com/category/... I also promote indie horror via Twitter - @RickReadsHorror

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Narratives edging on the periphery through fissures of existence. Conjuring, communicating and translating the unfixed, the cosmic, and the terrifying, vivid interjections at intersections and further on, Gemma Files a very capable conductor of the uncanny and a cacophony of things, executing with intimate and ominous poetic prose, transmuting the myriad via a trajectory with a phantasmagoric experience. All the right details no words wasted precision storytelling. There was Shirley Jackson, there Narratives edging on the periphery through fissures of existence. Conjuring, communicating and translating the unfixed, the cosmic, and the terrifying, vivid interjections at intersections and further on, Gemma Files a very capable conductor of the uncanny and a cacophony of things, executing with intimate and ominous poetic prose, transmuting the myriad via a trajectory with a phantasmagoric experience. All the right details no words wasted precision storytelling. There was Shirley Jackson, there is Stephen King and now there is Gemma Files. You may have watched a series of movies like Midsommar, Hereditary, and Mandy, shows like Haunting of Hill House and The Outsider. You are wondering which books or stories may evoke in a better way, this is you ticket to existential terror In that endlessness, be our end story collection. Check out my interview with the author in February 2021 @ https://more2read.com/review/interview-with-gemma-files/ The Stories reviewed briefly with notable excerpts @ https://more2read.com/review/in-that-endlessness-our-end-by-gemma-files/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carson Winter

    (originally published at my website carsonwinter.com) The best opening I can conceive of for this review is an honest one. I’ve been poking at it for awhile; I’ve tried relating it to what I want as a reader, who I am as a writer; I took a stab at asking a big, fat rhetorical question about what short fiction is really about—as if somehow, by asking said question, I’d become qualified to answer it. All those attempts at creating a hook really, really sucked, so I’ll just say this instead: Gemma F (originally published at my website carsonwinter.com) The best opening I can conceive of for this review is an honest one. I’ve been poking at it for awhile; I’ve tried relating it to what I want as a reader, who I am as a writer; I took a stab at asking a big, fat rhetorical question about what short fiction is really about—as if somehow, by asking said question, I’d become qualified to answer it. All those attempts at creating a hook really, really sucked, so I’ll just say this instead: Gemma Files’ new collection, In That Endlessness, Our End is really fucking good. Here’s the facts: Gemma Files is a Canadian author with a lot of work under her belt, including, but not limited to the collection Spectral Evidence and Experimental Film, a novel that dazzled me with its portrayal of human relationships as much as it did with its lost film conceit. The latter had been my only direct experience with Files’ work, but it left enough of an impression on me to see her as a major force in today’s literary horror scene. Her new collection continues to make this case, with some of the most creative, distinctively voiced short fiction I’ve read in years. In That Endlessness, Our End feels right at home in Grimscribe Press’s small catalog of authors who exist insistently as themselves on every page. Files has a syntax and style all her own that stands in sharp contrast to a lot of her peers who write similarly high-brow weird horror. The style here is well-represented by fundamentals that can follow their bloodline all the way back to Poe, of course, but it’s the twists on the fundamentals that provide Files with her voice. Point in case: the first person narrator. As I know it, the default narrator for the weird horror story has become a stock character. If one were to write a modern post-Ligotti weird tale right now, they might easily fall into a familiar lead archetype—nervous (as Poe would say: “TRUE!—nervous”), academic, cold, and exceedingly alienated. This is a narrative voice that genre auteurs such as Jon Padgett, Thomas Ligotti, and Matt Cardin have formed into something nearing a cliche in their (yes, excellent) work. But Files eschews the modern Weird blueprint and works from a more naturalistic and modern palate. Her characters speak like humans, not academics on the edge of breakdown. They are products of contemporary life, not detachments meant to highlight their own detachment. In this, Files work feels conversant with the present and very much alive. In That Endlessness, Our End has a bold streak that runs deeper than Files first-person narratives though, there’s also her sense of rhythm as a storyteller. Not too long ago, I read Chuck Palahniuk’s Consider This, a book on writing that I thought was actually pretty great—filled to the brim with pragmatic writing advice that didn’t try to turn the act of writing into some metaphysical exercise in muse-chasing. One bit of tangible advice that managed to stick to my brain-folds was the notion of eliminating scene breaks. For the inexperienced, the scene break is the sort of crutch you lean on when you don’t know how to link scenes, or end scenes, or really know what to do with a scene at all. They exist as something you saw once in a book, then ruthlessly liberated as an ill-considered element of style. Files is the counterpoint to this. Her fiction is brimming with sharp scene breaks, maybe more than I’ve ever seen employed before. It’s a confident bit of style that makes her stories feel like moving snapshots, or a constellation of stab wounds. They have a pace all their own, and it works in harmony with the quick, modern voices that do the telling. An interesting aspect of In That Endlessness, Our End—to me, anyways—is the conversation it has with the state of modern horror. Namely, the merging and restructuring of what is popular and what is respected. Gemma Files writes literary horror informed by the Weird—a style that has become the respected end of a genre, where serious writer’s writers write stories that will inevitably please other writer’s writers. On the other end of the genre, is the populist side—rollercoaster horror, as I call it. This is the stuff that’s supposed to be an amusement park ride, or a campfire story to make your next piss in the dark an exercise in hyper-awareness. One side wants to be art, the other side wants to be fun—the war wages on. “Venio,” possibly one of my favorite stories I’ve read in recent years, feels like a meeting of these two worlds, where the strange conceit is a game not unlike the games that form the basis for what is probably the least respected (and fittingly, the most read) form of horror short storytelling, the creepypasta. The story's hook is big and sharp and it drags the reader along through a frankly unsettling story, told with all the depth of a writer who cares a lot about good writing. Through a certain lens, “Venio” can be viewed as permission to be scared, to have fun along the way—an olive branch to the rollercoaster. There are other examples of these sorts of high-concept pitch-lines translated into the world of delicately crafted and personal art, but there’s also some outright subversion. “Come Closer” comes to mind as a haunted house story where the house is treated like Michael Myers, a big lug of a follower who gets closer every time you turn around. Creepy, right? Files is good at shit like that, finding just the right twist on an old trope so that it feels relevant and newly unsettling. “The Puppet Hotel” is another one of these stories, a true highlight, that features the very now concept of the AirBnB-as-haunted entity. Sometimes, in comparison to her contemporaries, Files seems as if she’s engaged in a constant war on the artifice and antiquity that has driven the genre for years Post-Lovecraft. It’s as if she’s grabbing us by the collar, frothing at the mouth, reminding us in her fast, athletic voice that the present is plenty scary. These concepts also mold the framing of her stories, such as in “Bulb,” which is presented as a podcast transcription with a surly guest; as well as the ambitious and creepy “The Church in the Mountains,” where Files uses her knowledge of Canadian film once again to craft a compelling tale of a half-remembered television show (which, so it happens, is another common trope in the world of creepypasta). Both of these stories reflect a relationship with media that is complex—in Files stories, media is the continuation of another of horror’s eldest darlings: the dream sequence—an uncontrollable unreality that whispers truths we’d rather not hear. In That Endlessness, Our End is a stunning collection brimming with style and verve. Gemma Files deserves to be talked about. Her fiction deserves to be explored. Her characters are complex and anxious and sometimes difficult. They represent a diverse sampling of the population. What can I offer at the end of this review that I couldn’t offer at the beginning? Nothing, really. Only a request. Please, I beg you: read this fucking book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    As with all short story collections, some of these I really liked and others were just meh. I have to admit I skipped some of them that I just didn't "get". But these are some of the creepiest, most disturbing, scary stories I have ever read. Literally could not read them at night - they just left me feeling too aware of the dark. As with all short story collections, some of these I really liked and others were just meh. I have to admit I skipped some of them that I just didn't "get". But these are some of the creepiest, most disturbing, scary stories I have ever read. Literally could not read them at night - they just left me feeling too aware of the dark.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Gemma Files is my favorite 21st century (2000s onward) horror short fiction author. Period. I have all of her short story collections, and every one has delighted me. This one was no exception. Gemma has a way of writing that really immerses you into the story, and her approach to horror takes one to some strange, unfamiliar places, or to familiar places seen in a whole new light. I would have devoured it, but my wife and I ended up reading it aloud together haha. To me, this collection was up t Gemma Files is my favorite 21st century (2000s onward) horror short fiction author. Period. I have all of her short story collections, and every one has delighted me. This one was no exception. Gemma has a way of writing that really immerses you into the story, and her approach to horror takes one to some strange, unfamiliar places, or to familiar places seen in a whole new light. I would have devoured it, but my wife and I ended up reading it aloud together haha. To me, this collection was up there with "Spectral Evidence" and "Kissing Carrion" (my other two faves of hers) in terms of story quality and diversity. My favorites were "Venio" (they've drawn a door-what's coming?), "Always After Three" (a slow-burn creepfest that really gets under your skin), "Bulb" (Lovecraft fans, you'll never look at electricity the same way again), "The Puppet Motel" (another slow-burn creeper), "Cut Frame" (a delightful tale that is very much Files about an actress who becomes something more), and "The Church In the Mountain" (another very-much-Files story involving forgotten films and their consequences, somewhat reminiscent of her novel "Experimental Film"). Gemma is the only writer who frequently writes in the second person and doesn't make it distracting or have it take you out of the story. She is a treasure, and I'm always so excited to see what she does next!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Highly recommended. Probably the best short story collection I've read. Every story sticks with you. Took me a long time to read because I wanted to savour it for as long as possible. Highly recommended. Probably the best short story collection I've read. Every story sticks with you. Took me a long time to read because I wanted to savour it for as long as possible.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Goding

    Stories kind of petered off for me in the end, but way WAY better than "Experimental Film" in my opinion. Stories kind of petered off for me in the end, but way WAY better than "Experimental Film" in my opinion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Baker

    Full disclosure: Gemma is a friend. She's also one of the most talented writers I know and I've thought so from long before we became friends. In this collection, nowhere is safe. Avoid Airbnbs, condos, family reunions, nature, the city, neglected houses, half-remembered movies, and most definitely do not do writing exercises. The prose is seductive and full of smart observation, the stories often told in a seemingly friendly first-person that hides the narrator's fate - or their knife. The stor Full disclosure: Gemma is a friend. She's also one of the most talented writers I know and I've thought so from long before we became friends. In this collection, nowhere is safe. Avoid Airbnbs, condos, family reunions, nature, the city, neglected houses, half-remembered movies, and most definitely do not do writing exercises. The prose is seductive and full of smart observation, the stories often told in a seemingly friendly first-person that hides the narrator's fate - or their knife. The stories cover everything from cosmic horror to family curses to the truth about changelings (not in the least flattering to humanity - which should be no surprise). As someone who always took comfort in thinking "At least my house is too old to be haunted", this was not a reassuring collection, as it takes the spaces we're accustomed to associating with only mundane dangers and invests them with otherworldly dread. At least I'm not likely to be in an Airbnb anytime soon. But I am sad about the writing exercises.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kassandra

  13. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rose Vincent

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tomasz

  17. 4 out of 5

    jude

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dejan Ognjanović

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  22. 5 out of 5

    ℕ I C O L E

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jay

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Graham

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly B

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yenni

  28. 5 out of 5

    Em

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  30. 5 out of 5

    Coral

  31. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Scott

  32. 5 out of 5

    Daren

  33. 4 out of 5

    Terry Getz

  34. 5 out of 5

    Hatchet Mouth

  35. 5 out of 5

    Adriane

  36. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Linderos

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  38. 5 out of 5

    Scott Murray

  39. 5 out of 5

    Ava

  40. 4 out of 5

    Danni Faith

  41. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  42. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria

  43. 5 out of 5

    Jacquesworth

  44. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Nowark

  45. 5 out of 5

    Roxie |The Book Slayer| Voorhees

  46. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Ankers

  47. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Santos

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