Leave Your Sleep

By R.B. (Ray) Russell

PS Publishing, Ltd., 2012

ISBN 978-1-84863-325-4 (unsigned) 978-1-84863-326-1 (signed)

Reviewed by Eden Royce 

If you like your horror gory, this is not the short story collection for you.

However, if you like psychological horror that is reminiscent of the classic Gothic style, then pick up a copy of Leave Your Sleep.

This collection of 12 stories features dark, moody settings and realistic characters that do the unthinkable because they are pushed to do so out of sheer desperation.

One thing about Russell’s writing style is that he doesn’t explain every detail of what occurs in each story. The reader is able to feel a bit of the same disorientation that the characters are feeling. He doesn’t spoon-feed you; he lets you draw your own conclusions. If you were to discuss this book with a friend, the question wouldn’t be: “What did you think of what happened?” It would be: “What just happened?”

And I like that. I don’t need explanation of the unexplainable. To me it shows Russell’s confidence in his work when he presents these spooky, atmospheric stories that are unapologetic about the bewilderment the reader will inevitably feel.

Of particular interest to me was that several of these stories (“A Woman of the Party” and “The Dress”, for instance) were written from a female point of view. And they were written successfully, with an authoritative and believable female tone.

Russell has a Poe–like fascination with death and debilitating illness. Leave Your Sleep has frail heroines having mental breakdowns, possession of the body and mind, and more hiding in its pages. From a creepy damaged eye in the title story to an unfortunate woman’s damaged brain in “Another Perspective”. I’ll admit: I wasn’t able to guess the endings of these tales.

And for me, that’s enough to recommend this collection.

About Eden Royce

Eden Royce is a writer and editor from Charleston, South Carolina whose great-aunt practiced root, a type of conjure magic. She now wishes she’d listened more closely. She is also the horror submissions editor for Mocha Memoirs Press and a regular contributor to Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site dedicated to purging the Black female horror fan from the margins. She is also featured in the book, 60 Black Women in Horror Writing. Besides writing, her passions include roller-skating, listening to thunderstorms, and excellent sushi. Visit Eden’s blog at darkgeisha.wordpress.com or her website at edenroyce.com.

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