Laura Mauro
Undertow Publications
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Some writers are magicians, using words and phrases to create unforgettable stories which dig deep down below the surface of everyday life and find the hidden mysteries of the human condition.

Laura Mauro is one of these few gifted authors. Her weird but fascinating stories have been appearing the last few years in a number of different genre anthologies and magazines and now, at last, have been collected in a single volume, enriched by two additional brand-new tales.

“Sun Dogs,” a Shirley Jackson Award finalist, is a deeply disturbing piece featuring a lost female creature whose real nature appears dangerous from the outset, yet enticing and impossibly attractive to her unsuspecting host (and to the reader as well).

“In The Looking Glass Girl,” a perceptive mix of supernatural and of ancient life rules, a terrible secret lies hidden in a far-away country home, while in “Obsidian,” an offbeat fable of cruel beauty, human feelings and alien realities merge at the bottom of a lake.

“In the Marrow” is an intriguing, sad story about cancer transforming people beyond their own fears, and “Strange as Angels” is a vivid tale of graphic horror, revolving around a weird creature hit by a car, rescued and fed by a lonely woman.

The disquieting but moving “The Pain-Eater’s Daughter” portrays the unusual family gift (and curse) to be able to erase pain from the body of dying people.

The British Fantasy Award-winner “Looking for Laika” is a quite original novelette where the fate of the dog sent into space by Russia in the late ‘50s becomes the obsessive subject of a bedtime storytelling of a boy to his little sister.

Another great piece is “Ptichka,” an outstanding story where the drama of a pregnant migrant unable to get assistance from the NHS acquires terribly dark, horrific shades.

If you never met before with this extraordinary writer, the present book is a great opportunity to do it now, while if you’re already familiar with some of her stories, here’s a wonderful chance to read the rest of her body of work.


About Mario Guslandi

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