Eventyr: 12 Tales of Dread and Horror is Andrew O’Connell’s fourth collection of short stories, all of which use a first-person narrator to explore moments where normal life ceases and the horrific invades.
Most of the stories are snapshots of a paranormal situation without a longer narrative arc or much development of the usually unnamed narrator, like in ‘Phantasmagoria’ or ‘The Monster in the Lighthouse.’
The narrator in the former is merely the descriptor of the horror-laden painting that seems to come to life, with no discernible age, gender, or life experience. It is less of a story than a freeze frame of an idea that could become something bigger.
In other stories the unreliable or at least not entirely sane narrator explains what drove them to commit horrible crimes, such as in ‘My Friendly Neighbour, Mr Wyckette,’ or ‘Dark Charlie, the Dentist.’ I found the latter to be the most compelling and the spookiest story of the collection.
Andrew’s expository writing style suits an epistolary format, and while I’m sure the concept of a soul-stealing dentist has occurred to many a patient as their molars get scraped, in this story it is fresh and haunting, told from the perspective of both the dentist and his victim, as he grows to become the thing that tormented him.
Lika Kvirikashvili’s illustrations of black ink splatters that suggest the occasional animal or face are perfectly suited to the unspecified dread that sets the tone of these stories. With both we are left trying to discern something recogniseable in the horror of what the blurb describes as “human experiences we normally prefer to shun: fear disgust, terror, and the uncanny.”
Eventyr: 12 Tales of Dread and Horror is published by InHouse Publishing.