THE CANAL and Other Weird Stories
Weird House Press, 2023
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Not very well known to the current fans of gothic and horror fiction, Everil Worrell has been a not too prolific but faithful contributor to the legendary magazine Weird Tales from the 20s to the 50s. The present collection, edited by ST Joshi,assembles eighteen stories by Worrell, making them available again to the readers of the genre.
Worrell’s stories are seldom ordinary, although sometimes overlong, and pay homage to some of the genre clichés without becoming stereotypes.
Among the tales included in the book, I will briefly focus on the ones which strike me as more accomplished.
The title story “The Canal” is a vivid piece of unsettling fiction addressing the subject of vampirism in a very physical way, bound to elicit uneasiness and cold shivers, while “Leonora” is an atmospheric, although not fully convincing tale where a young girl rides a car with an evidently dead creature.
In “The Rays of the Moon” – an extremely dark, fully enjoyable story despite its implausibility – a body snatcher meets with a not quite dead corpse inside a grave.
“An Effect of Anesthesia “ vividly describes how a new anesthetic is apparently the cause of a metaphysical experience for a patient undergoing surgery, while the engrossing “The Gray Killer” is a fascinating mix of horror and SF set in a hospital where strange events take place.
The excellent “Norn”, ostensibly a tale about lycanthropy, is also a piece of psychological horror, where the physical and mental horrific aspects blend into an extremely unsettling story.
Just a few examples from a collection revisiting to the classical era of horror fiction.
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