I think the wrong short story collection got named Trigger Warning. Grimm Mistresses deals with some dark, dark stuff. A short and fairly solid five story collection; all by woman and all dealing with a modern take on an old classic story. I didn’t think there was a bad story in the collection but be warned; rape of men and women are included, as is a whole lot of bad things happening to children. Technically this is a collection of horror tales, with one excellent story full of hope hidden in the middle. With only five stories in the bunch I will do something I rarely do; say a few words about each of them.
Little Dead Red by Mercedes M Yardley – An obvious allusion to a famous young girl who just wants to get to Grandma’s house but there are no happy endings to be found this time. A compelling but nasty little story about a woman’s descent into a grief induced madness as she looks for the ‘wolf’ who took her little girl. It had an absolutely chilling opening, one of the best I have read. The only downer (outside of the dark and depressing story of course) was an ending that I could have done without. Some loose ends were tied up that actually hurt the overall feel in my opinion; it was better when I didn’t know some of the things revealed within the last few paragraphs.
Nectar by Allison M Dickson – I take back what I said up top, there was a fairly weak story in this collection. A trail of breadcrumbs story if you catch my meaning; also a story of wish fulfillment gone horrible wrong. Two middle age men go on a blind double date with women who possess goddess like good looks. And then everything goes wrong for those two men as they learn about the nature of houses made of candy. It was interesting for a while but I never really bought the overall premise and it moved into some science fiction weirdness that completely lost me.
The Leopard’s Pelt by S.R. Cambridge – Completely out of place in this collection yet for me it is the highlight. The Leopards Pelt takes place around World War II; before, during, but mostly after. But it is in no way a war story. A man’s time on a deserted island brings with it a magical binding that either a blessing or curse, and it will take the whole story to find out. I have no idea what old tale this is a take off form but I sure did love it; hopeful throughout and full of heart but without a pure fairly tale ending for everyone. Good stuff, if you only read on story from this collection skip right to the middle.
Hazing Cinderella by C.W. LaSart – When the head cheerleader decides to haze her new step-sister she drags a couple of friends along. Meanwhile back at home the newly married stepmother has a few secrets of her own. This story was pure horror. No suspense, no real twists, just nasty things happening to nasty people. Easy to read, pretty good, and would probably be a great movie Carrie style but ultimately a bit forgettable.
The Night Air by Stacy Turner – A family has moved to the country just outside of a strange but quite little town. The mother discovers and old graveyard during one of her walks. The graves have a real oddity to them; the times of death are all one of two dates. Asking around in town gets her nothing but a creepy feeling. Then the real nightmare begins. Heartbreaking more than scary, though again with a touch of hope that strangely feels right. Based on a well-known old tale, but to mention it would give away everything.
The copy for review was provided by the publisher.