The Shadows Behind
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
April 30, 2019
Books and Boos Press
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale
The Shadows Behind is the perfect title for this amazing collection. The stories within tell of lingering loss via imaginative and incredibly smart writing. Schoonover writes of grief and regret that follows like a shadow, and the stories in this collection will remain like a shadow for some time after you finish reading.
While there are no bad stories in the bunch, there were a few standouts:
37 Birds—has a very eerie atmosphere. The story contains both horror and terror as there is an alluring mix between realistic events and the supernatural. The unsettling ending leaves you unsure if you should feel relieved or panicked but you will definitely want more.
Hourglass—I am a sucker for a good hook and this story started with “I was on page 298 of Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titanic! when the first kid in our neighborhood disappeared.” Following that fantastic line were vivid details of what is was like to be a kid in the 70s when times were tough, and you had to use your imagination for entertainment in a pre-internet world. When children disappeared over forty years ago it was handled differently, which only adds to the horror element. The adults’ “soldier on” attitude amplifies the vulnerability of the children which raises the fear factor.
Snake in the Grass—This is more of a bizarro story than horror. Very clever and humorous with a nice pun of a title. It begins with the fantastic hook: “Twenty-one years after I was the first girl to get boobs in fifth grade, I woke up with a penis.” If that doesn’t leave you wanting to read more, then I don’t want to know you.
Candle Gardens—A story about loss with writing that is poetic and ethereal, like the flames of mystical memorial candles.
Hairless Girl Does the Hula—An unexpected revenge story. This one really lingered with me. Schoonover weaves together a narrative of the past and present like an enviable braid of lustrous hair.
Mujina—A different sort of revenge story. The main character has memory loss so the reader pieces together the story with her. The pace of the revelation is compelling.
The Thing Inside—This story has great detail, like the interior of a gas station that we have all visited. This story cleverly combines the haunting aspect of loss with the haunting aspect of addiction. I actually gasped at the end.
Schoonover is a deft and accomplished writer. I greatly enjoyed this collection and highly recommend it. You do not have to be a horror fan to enjoy The Shadows Behind as the writing is intelligent and the themes transcend genre. Add this book to your summer reading list.