Friday, September 22, 2017

My House Gathers Desires: Review

My House Gathers Desires (2017) is the the most recent story collection by Adam McOmber. Like his earlier collection, This New & Poisonous Air, these stories are not strictly scary, but they do have a very unsettling, Gothic feel. He uses dark and unusual settings and atmosphere to explore the hidden corners of the human psyche. The tales are sometimes uncomfortable but always compelling and this collection in particular examines haunting manifestations of gender and sexuality. The backdrops come from the worlds of science fiction, history, fairy tales, and the Bible. In "Petit Trianon" we find two women who have a most disturbing experience in the refuge of Marie Antoinette when they visit the Palace of Versailles years later. "History of a Saint" describes the separate obsessions of a man and his wife with the incorruptible body of a dead woman...who was never quite designated a saint. "The Rite of Spring" is the story that most closely falls into the horror category. It features Mrs. Elizabeth Jordan who teaches at a boys' school and who faces a terrifying horror on a nearby island when two of the students take her teachings about myth and ritual a little too literally. 

There was a difference, she thought, between a god and monster. She should have told them while she could.

And "Metempsychosis" tells the tale of a young man who is led to the secrets behind the scenes of a traveling museum and discovers that some secrets are better left unknown.

These are (for me) the most affecting of the stories, but even the weakest are very, very good. Some of the other stories feature a confederate soldier, a retelling of Sodom and Gomorrah, and slightly different take on ghost stories. McOmber takes the stuff of nightmares and sets it to lyrical music. He opens up Pandora's box and the reader is both horrified and delighted at what flies out. ★★★★

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