burnt back sunsBurnt Black Suns
by Simon Strantzas
Hyppocampus Press 2014
$20.00 Trade Paperback
308 pp

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

After three successful, excellent  collections canadian horror writer Simon Strantzas returns with a new volume of short stories and novellas, some previously appeared in print, some original.

Strantzas is, without any doubt, one of the more interesting new voices in contemporary dark fiction. And, much to my satisfaction, he is one of the few authors who seem to be glad to stick with short fiction instead of using it as a trampoline toward the inevitable publication of novels ( apparently more lucrative and more easily accepted by publishers)

Readers already familiar with Strantzas’ work know what to expect from him: a substantially pessimistic view of the universe, a place where darkness often overcomes light and where anguish and fear are among the main components of human life.

The present book confirms the author’s  weltanschauung as well as his ability to effectively disturb the reader with his sinister plots and his unsettling prose.

Among the nine pieces included in Burnt Black Suns, four have especially impressed me.

“On Ice” is a terrifying tale of arctic horror where the  combination of  a merciless nature and of inhuman creatures destroy the members of a scientific expedition, while “Strong as a Rock” is a distressful nightmare in which a rock climbing accident leads to a lethal search for an elusive hospital.

In the gloomy “Beyond the Banks of the River Seine” a mediocre composer manages to achieve outstanding artistic results at his own risk, thanks to a mysterious arcane book.

“One Last Bloom” is a masterful, frightening novella, a mix between SF and Lovecraftian  horror, desribing how a research expedition to the Mexican sea brings about sickness and death in a tragedy of epic proportions.

I will leave to you the pleasure to discover the rest of the collection. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of delightful shivers.

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