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Sins of the Sirens / Edited by John Everson

thsirens-180.jpgDark Arts Books / January 2008
Reviewed by: Derek Clendening

Four literary mistresses of the night, teamed up for one book, can be an alluring and dangerous proposition, as editor John Everson notes in his introduction to Sins of the Sirens. Taking a unique approach to the multi-author anthology format by featuring only a quartet of voices, Sins offers up fourteen stories by Loren Rhoads, Maria Alexander, Mehitobel Wilson, and Christa Faust – the four ‘sirens’ chosen to lure the reader into some dark and sinister territory. The overall theme is akin to Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett’s Hot Blood series, but Sirens packs a much stiffer punch. Everson’s anthology certainly succeeds in its goal to offer sensual terror from an all-female perspective.

Loren Rhoads’ “The Angel’s Lair” sets the stage for the recurring theme of female empowerment in this tale of female sexual dominance over her male counterpart. Comparable themes are ever-present throughout her other tales - and throughout the anthology in general.

Although there is not a single story in the anthology that is not well-written, Mehitobel Wilson stands out as the most powerful voice here, with her contribution “Parting Jane” offering perhaps a more literary approach than any other story in the collection. Told through the unique perspective of an ill, nine-year-old girl, “Parting Jane” offers a significant departure in tone in a collection that suffers at times from recycled themes carried from one story to another.

Perhaps the thematic ties in Sins of the Sirens bind too tightly. Indeed, the anthology’s flaws seem rooted in its lack of variety. Although Wilson’s “Parting Jane” adds a much needed change of pace to the anthology’s recurring themes of sexual dominance, sadomasochism, fetishes, and drugs, the tale does not appear until three quarters into the book. Yet despite this thematic repetition, readers will likely find the stories compelling and exceptionally readable.

Overall, Sins of the Sirens is a worthy anthology that acquaints readers with four notable genre voices. It’s yet another solid addition to the growing catalog of Dark Arts Books and a fine example of the positive contributions of the horror small press. Sins’ subject matter is a perfect fit for the small press, and Everson does an excellent job catering to the specific tastes of those who like their horror on the sensual side - with just a hint of the nasty.

Purchase Sins of the Sirens, edited by John Everson.

Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 11:19AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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