Shadows & Tall Trees Issue 2
Edited by Michael Kelly

Undertow Publications 2011
Trade Paperback, 125 pages, $ 15
Review by Mario Guslandi

Editor/Publisher Michael Kelly, in his Introduction to Issue 2 of the annual journal Shadows & Tall Trees, devoted to horror and weird fiction, emphasizes that quality is the magazine’s primary goal, and that style and content are the things that really matter. I wholeheartedly subscribe to Kelly’s point of view which, incidentally, doesn’t come to me as a surprise, knowing how fine a stylist he is as a writer.

And, in addition, I’m pleased to report that the present issue of Shadows & Tall Trees does fulfill the editor’s promises.

There are several excellent stories in the fiction Section of the journal.

Richard Harland contributes “At the Top of the Stairs”, a terrifying, puzzling tale where a woman abandoned by her husband undergoes a terrible change while her children try hard to help and be brave.

Steve Rasnic Tem’s “Back Among the Shy Trees” is the subtle, masterful report of how a man going back to his childhood home to retrieve family mementos ends up unearthing dark family secrets.

“The Candle” by Ian Rogers is a superb example of “quiet horror” lurking behind daily trivial events such as the bedtime conversation of an old couple and the simple act of getting up to check if a candle has been blown out.

Eric Schaller provides “Voices Carry,” a brief but very effective tableau where the tense meeting of two couples after an adultery has taken place gets a truly horrific shade.

My favorite tale is Louis Marvick’s “Devil’s Music,” a extraordinary story somehow in the tradition of MR James, revolving around a musical artifact endowed with devilish properties. The excellent storytelling contrives to totally hook any fan of elegant dark fiction.

The journal also includes stories by Sunny Moraine and Alison J Littlewood, as well as film reviews by Tom Goldstein and a nasty book review by Adam Golaski.

Highly recommended.

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