Tuesday Terror! From Around Here by Tim Pratt

Demons, spiders and weird serial killers…

 

Back to modern horror stories again and another dip into the enjoyable collection of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Vol.19. Tim Pratt has been nominated for several science fiction and fantasy awards including the Nebula and Mythopoeic, and in 2007 won the Hugo Award for his story Impossible Dreams. So his story From Around Here seems like a good candidate for this week’s…

TUESDAY TERROR!

I arrived on a ferry made of gull cries and good ocean fog, and stepped from the limnal world into Jack London Square, down by Oakland’s fine deep-water port. I walked, pre-dawn, letting my form coalesce from local expectations, filtered through my own habits and preferences…I was looking for the reek of the deeply crazy, the kind of living crack in a city that can swallow whole neighbourhoods and poison the well of human faith in a place utterly. The kind that could shatter lives on an afternoon spree or corrode them slowly over decades.

BESTnewHORROR_F2When Reva arrives in a neighbourhood in Oakland, he can sense that there is evil there, though on the surface it’s a contented place where folks look after their properties and get along. But though there’re plenty of people who belong in the street, there are also lots of newcomers and sometimes they don’t stay long – just up and disappear, leaving all their belongings behind. The good people of the street assume it’s just their unsettled lifestyle – but Reva thinks there’s something bad going on and he’s here to put a stop to it…

A good place, or it could have been, but there was a canker along one street, spiderwebbing out into the neighbourhoods nearby, blood and crying and death somewhere in the near past, and lurking in the likely future.

I found this a really well written and quirkily interesting little story. We know straight away that Reva isn’t quite human – the fact that this is his first day in his new body tells us that! But though we don’t find out exactly what he is till near the end, we know he’s a good guy – some kind of supernatural being who has appointed himself to rid good neighbourhoods of lurking evils. What we don’t know is what kind of evil he is facing in this street – human or…not. Reva has the power to see deep down into people’s souls, so long as they’re ‘from around here’ and is puzzled when he comes across one inhabitant he can’t read. But he is soon to discover that the evil in the street is greater than he thought…

[He] stood up, letting his human shape drop, revealing the shambling earthen thing underneath, the creature of the dark and deep who’d lived here, on this spot, for centuries. [He] was a local spirit, tied to this place, but he was an ugly one, who chose to live off pain instead of prosperity. He reached out to me with arms of darkness, endless limbs that stank of minerals and stale air.

Tim Pratt
Tim Pratt

Despite the presence of a serial killer and a horrifyingly demonic spirit, this is quite a jolly little tale with a good deal of humour. The violence against humans takes place off the page so it’s not a gory tale – in the end it’s a battle between ancient good and evil with the humans as pawns in the struggle. Though it’s not particularly scary, there is quite a lot of nice stuff in it about spiders, real and metaphorical, for those arachnophobes amongst us (special recommendation for BigSister there). I found it an imaginative and well-told tale, with rather a heart-warming message about neighbourliness and a search for a place to call home. In the little introduction that’s given at the beginning of each story, Pratt says he wanted the story to be about ‘yearning, and rootlessness, and nostalgia, and weird serial killers’. I’d say he achieved his aim remarkably well, and will certainly look out for more of his stories in future.

 

Fretful porpentine rating:   😯 😯

Overall story rating:           😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

30 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! From Around Here by Tim Pratt

  1. FictionFan – It looks as though this is definitely an author to watch, even if your spine isn’t madly tingling. And I do like to discover authors through their short stories. To me it gives a different sort of perspective to the author’s work.

    • I enjoyed his writing style and thought the story was quite imaginative. I must say there are more good horror writers/stories out there today than I expected when I started this whole thing, and lots of them manage to avoid the gore-fest type of horror.

  2. Interesting! It seems like an odd book, for sure. Nice review, and the author looks as if he just did something really wicked. Do spiders scare you, FEF?

    Coolio! You’re reading that Mo Wolf book.

  3. No thank you – but at least you didn’t put a PICTURE up this time! Glad you enjoyed it though: we’ll make a fantasy fan of you yet. 🙂

  4. Sounds like a keeper. SF along with horror – oh yes, please. Spiders…I tell them when they invade my house that if they stay where I can’t touch they they are safe. Except in bedrooms. In bedrooms it is immediate extinction.

    • Yes, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the standard of writing and imagination in a lot of the modern horror stories I’ve been reading. Much more of this and I might become a horror fan! 😯

  5. I think that genre needs humour to break the darkness, so glad to hear the author has successfully achieved this as humour can be the hardest thing to write.

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