Review of "The Reluctant Death," a single story in a collection by Bernard Schaffer
WOMEN AND OTHER MONSTERS collects six short-stories about getting even with vampires, secret agents with special powers, ancient astronauts, what they really mean when they talk about a woman scorned, and an African Death God on a Virginia slave plantation.
I have mixed feelings about this story. Let me start out by saying that it's beautifully written. The author definitely has some skill when it comes to concise, potent description. The premise of the story was also quite interesting. Schaffer sent me only one story to review from his collection. The Reluctant Death is the African Death God story in the aforementioned summary.
This brings us to the story itself. I felt confused by the "vibe" it gave off. It struck me as being stuck between two cultures. One the one hand, you could tell the author was really trying to go for the slightly twisted thriller/horror genre that is very loudly broadcast in the product description on Amazon. "Adrenaline pumping" is, I believe, used. On the other hand, it's almost like this story was trying to retell an African fable. Like the author wanted to do his own twist on the Death God myth. Or a modern remix, perhaps?
This story is quite intriguing, but hardly adrenaline pumping or spooky. The hint of folklore adds a nice flavor but is not really focused on enough to make an impact. By the end you are aware of that the Death God has something to do with our leading lady's curse, but this (rather crucial) aspect is not really woven into the story.
Reviewed by Alain Gomez
Buy this collection on Amazon US.