Hardcover, 357 pages, $40.00
Review by Mario Guslandi
Disreputable places are the bread and butter of Frank Chigas’ fiction. Years after his first, extraordinary collection The Damp Chamber he’s back with a book of new horror stories entitled Strange Corridors. Once again he’s leading the reader across the peculiar geography of horror created by his powerful imagination, apt to disquiet and frighten his fellow travelers.
Thus, in “Mephisto’s Clay” unspeakable horrors are lurking in the forests of the Alps, far from the safe, marked paths and in the rather implausible but gripping “The Eavesdropper” an evil entity grows from a wooden wall.
“The Cloaking Glass” is a classical tale of Jamesian horror set in the Scottish countryside while “The Other Tenant” is a deeply disturbing piece where the fates of two tenants intersect across their apartment building. In the unnerving “The Transference” a dark episode from the past is at the root of the mystery surrounding a partially submerged, abandoned country house. Similarly the truly horrific “The Blayne House” revolves around a creepy building becoming the doorway to a veritable hell.
In the obscure but terrifying “The New Christ of Templewood” a curio shop owner witnesses strange, unsettling events taking place in a small english town. “Tilly’s Return” describes how magic employed to evil purposes is finally destroyed as a horrible secret connected to the family home is brought into the open.
My favorite stories are “The Children of the Alcove,” a powerful, excellent piece in the tradition of the “menace” subgenre and “Fourmis dans les Paumes,” a great supernatural noir with a tragic ending.
Chigas’ tales have a classical flavor (not fortuitously, most of the stories are set decades ago)and are solidly built according to the rules of good storytelling and are imbued with a deep sense of dread that will suit any fan of savory but stylish horror fiction.