And in Her Smile, the World
Rebecca J. Allred & Gordon B. White
Trepidatio Publishing (February 11, 2022)
Reviewed by Andrew Byers
I went into the reading of And in Her Smile, the World with no expectations for what I was about to experience and was promptly blown away by the sheer creepiness and surreality of the story. I think that’s the right way to approach this one, so I won’t give away too many of the twists and turns. This really is a case where the less you think you know about this novella’s premise the better.
The reality of the world of And in Her Smile, the World is not what we think it is. There is a being known as the Quiet Woman with the power to unmake the world and a hidden cult of women who serve her and whose smiles can alter reality in sudden and terrifying ways. Jeffrey and Serena discovered something of these truths during their childhoods and, as adults, are drawn much deeper into this mystery. What happens when you discover that the world is not what you think it is? What happens when you discover that you yourself have the power to change reality?
And in Her Smile, the World is a prime example of how to create a truly original work of cosmic horror when you throw out all the old paradigms and cosmologies and start from scratch to create something truly new and original. The result was extremely creepy—which is always appreciated—and I have to say that it’s going to be hard to look at a big, toothy grin the same way after reading And in Her Smile, the World.
Rebecca Allred is a new writer to me, though I was already familiar with Gordon White’s excellent Rookfield (reviewed here previously). Their joint prose stylings are smooth and effortless. This is a quick-moving tale with just the right blending of action, characterization, and uncertainty for the reader about what’s coming next.
It’s the mark of an excellent tale that can take something as innocuous as a stranger walking toward you—as the film It Follows did—and make it genuinely terrifying. That’s rare, but And in Her Smile, the World has now done something similar with a simple smile. A haunting smile that just keeps growing and growing, exposing more and more teeth all the while…and with the power to consume and alter reality. If you’re seeking a creepy, surreal tale of cosmic horror, look no further than And in Her Smile, the World. Recommended.