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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Book review - Confined Spaces

Confined Spaces – Claustrophobic tales of terror

This collection of seven tales of terror is not recommended if you have a nervous disposition, are in any way paranoid or succumb to the modern disease of ‘snowflake-itis’.  If you’ve ever read any of Herbert Van Thal’s classic Tales of Horror, you’ll probably know what to expect, though you will still find each atmospheric offering tantalising and thought-provoking.

‘Adultery’ concerns a man and woman in a seedy hotel room, committing adultery. But then they hear something happening in the adjacent room. Something that tests their commitment and their sanity… A fine tale of tension.

‘The White Room’ finds an unnamed man regain consciousness in a white room. Trapped. He doesn’t know why. Food arrives while he is asleep. Confined, how can he escape? Hope burgeons in his chest. He discovers  a possible way to get out; if he’s careful, he can engineer a break-out. Patience over the days is required and, no easy task, he must keep his actions secret… A good nightmarish tale.

‘The Movie Star in her Ivory Tower’ is not so grim as the preceding stories. Elizabeth, a well-known actress, is confined in her hotel room, hiding from the paparazzi while Richard was out somewhere getting her ‘a surprise’… Trapped in a four-star hotel room. Despair very nearly overcomes her, the balcony beckoning… A sympathetic study of the price of fame, with a devilish twist at the end; Elizabeth would have approved.

‘Stonebridge’ isn’t a place but a person. Trevanion is trapped in a cellar beneath a great house that belongs to Stonebridge. How he got there and why promises there’s a grim and unpleasant fate awaiting Trevanion. This is a particularly gruesome tale, not for the squeamish!

The ‘Walkie-Talkie’ is held by the man buried alive. They can hear him pleading… and enjoy it. But they made a simple mistake…  Unpleasant characters who get their comeuppance. Dark!

‘Isolation’ is about a man who suffers from night tremors, imagining ‘the monster’ is hiding in the dark corners. There had to be a monster. Hadn’t Amanda vanished? The monster had taken her, perhaps… She had thought the flat was haunted. Leave the light on after you’ve read this…

‘Solipsism at the End of the World’ finds our nameless narrator staring out of his front window. After just over four months, he has decided to take a step outside. That was before he noticed that strange cylinder in the sky. And those creatures… Self-imposed isolation might be the safest option – but for how long?

Also included is the opening chapter of F.R Jameson’s haunting horror novel The Wannabes, which I also heartily recommend.

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