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Unearthly Fables

Within these parchments lie places hidden from the world. Where demons dance, hope is forsaken and fear is relished. Enter at your own risk . . . David Schembri's Unearthly Fables is a darkly evocative Pandora's box of a book. Made up of compact short-short stories of horror and dark fantasy, a flash fiction collection gathered under the title -Sightings in the Dark, - a few longer tales, and a concluding science fiction thriller, Unearthly Fables aims to unsettle the reader and leave phantom scratches on the psyche. The varied collection never seems merely random. Without sharing story continuity or characters, the shorts create a unity of tone and colour, a thematic resonance that is enhanced by the author's evocative illustrations. We feel that we're in a consistent and unsettling world. What the shorts and flash fiction inevitably lack in complex plotting, they make up for in atmosphere and dark imagery, jabs of black humour, half-seen glimpses into strange realities, and moments spent lost in the nastier corners of the human mind. This tonal unity even embraces the concluding more plot-driven SF novella, which has enough grotesque imagery and violent adventure to sit comfortably with and complement the preceding tales of supernatural and visceral horror. On top of all this, Schembri has asked some of Australia's leading practitioners of the weird tale to write a brief lead-in to the stories-another unusual touch. The book ends with an interview with Schembri conducted by editor Paula Berinstein, exploring the author's thoughts on horror and his own work. All up, Unearthly Fables is a distinctive collection of horror fiction, offering the reader a glimpse into the darker corners of Schembri's imagination. Robert Hood, horror-fantasy writer and author of Immaterial: Ghost Stories and the epic fantasy novel Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead.
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"Unearthly Fables" is a book that every fan of short, sharp fiction must have on his bookshelf. David Schembri's fiction is dark and brutal, and although it cuts to the chase, it still manages to be eloquent and descriptive, giving his flash fiction a distinctly poetic edge. And, as the word 'fable' in the title suggests, there is a fairy tale feel to many of his stories. I'm looking forward to reading more of David's fables in the future. Cameron Trost, author and publisher of Black Beacon Books. Unearthly Fables ranges from flash fiction to longer short stories and spans a wide range of creepy and at times disturbing moments. Desperate characters clash with dark forces in horror, thriller and sci-fi settings, interspersed with grim illustrations (like my favourite 'Hex'). I love collections for their variety and Unearthly Fables delivers but I think what sticks in my mind most was the way my expectations in many stories were subverted or fulfilled in a unexpected way, it was fun to read. 'The Seamstress' or 'Grandma' or 'A Way to Conquer Fear' come to mind in that respect, whereas the pleasure from other stories came from seeing how characters dealt with their powerlessness, such as 'Vow's Passage' or 'The Tuning of Hex' but my favourite piece was the novella 'Parhellion' which played out as a great futuristic revenge story - it stretched out and really built up tension and I can imagine more stories with Jeshan in his dark future. Great collection, horror fans check it out! Ashely Capes, Author and publisher oat Close-Up Books.

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