As Summer’s Mask Slips: And Other Disruptions
Gordon B. White
February 3, 2020
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale
Gordon B. White’s writing is simply stunning. Let me give you a little taste of the short story, “The Sputtering Wick of the Stars”:
It is the people in the small towns dotting the countryside who first notice the darkness in the evening skies. One by one, the stars are vanishing. Every night, more are snuffed out: hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of light years away. The encroaching blackness rolls across the horizon like a glacial wave.
The stories in As Summer’s Mask Slips contain this instant sense of place, synthesized with a powerful use of metaphor, imagery, alliteration, and high-quality writing. The characters are diverse, and the scenarios are eclectic. Basically, As Summer’s Mask Slips is a showcase that any writer would be proud to present.
The horror element in As Summer’s Mask Slips is of the gentler variety, largely due to the lovely writing style. White does not linger on violence; instead he delves into the characters’ responses to their situations, which is most often an eerie disconnect marked by sheer loneliness. The characters are haunted, and that atmosphere permeates the collection and remains with you after you finish reading.
I cannot say that I have a favorite, or favorites, among this anthology. While it is evident that the stories come from the same writer, there is an elegant uniqueness among them. I would finish one story thinking, “now THAT is the key story of the collection,” and then I would go onto the next and think the same thing.
I highly recommend As Summer’s Mask Slips. It is a fine example of Southern gothic fiction. There is an element of weird/bizarro (as I have come to expect from the wonderful Trepidatio Publishing) but it is normalized through the strong storytelling. A great read!