« Garbage Man / Joseph D'Lacey | Main | Personal Demons (The Jake Helman Files) / Gregory Lamberson »

Shades of Blood and Shadow / Angeline Hawkes

Dark Regions Press / August 2009
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

In her most recent short story collection, Shades of Blood and Shadow, Angeline Hawkes gives readers thirteen horror tales that each explores some aspect of history. Some are set in times and places long forgotten. Others delve into myth and folklore in settings with a more modern feel.

Hawkes opens each story with skill, building her worlds and guiding her characters through them. She matches her prose style to the time of the story, giving each an authenticity through her word choices and dialogue. The journeys set out for readers are enjoyable. It is easy to get caught up in the action. The hard part for this reviewer was arriving at the end. In many cases, the endings came too quickly.

Take, for example, “The Highwayman of Epping Forest.” Wyatt, an abused orphan, grows up to become a thief and cold-blooded killer of the people who pass through Epping Forest. He pays an innkeeper for a room in a safe house and takes up with his daughter, Catherine. After robbing and killing a man on Samhain, Wyatt encounters a ghoul and is tormented by ghosts of his other victims. Hawkes reeled me in but then lost me by killing a key character off and ending the story three paragraphs later.

In “Opportunity”, Hawkes does a great job with the set-up. Dr. Conrad Higgins uproots his family from a comfortable life in England to take a job in India. Of course when Higgins gets there, he gets more than he bargained for when his nurse claims vampires are responsible for one of their patient’s wounds. The story builds to the climax beautifully, only to be ended in a few short paragraphs that lacked the emotional depth that was present in the preceding pages.

The best story in the collection is “The Piper of Glamis Hill.” Bess, a young Scottish girl, awaits the return of her true love, Cameron Campbell. Unfortunately, the younger Lord Stone wants Bess for himself but he cannot marry a simple farm girl so long as his father, Lord Stone, the elder, and Cameron Campbell are still alive. The elder Lord Stone is dying. And the younger Lord Stone is not about to let Cameron Campbell stand in his way. But what about what Bess wants? Choosing between the two men comes with a heavy price. Who will Bess choose?

History buffs and readers who like a supernatural twist are bound to love Shades of Blood and Shadow. From the retelling of a biblical event to Mayan legends and around the world to the Ukraine, Hawkes puts a unique spin on whatever time period and subject matter she’s covering. Despite the reviewer’s qualms about some of the stories’ endings, there are still gems to be unearthed in this collection. “The Piper of Glamis Hill” was just one of them.

Purchase Shades of Blood and Shadow by Angeline Hawkes.

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2009 at 10:29AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend