Lydian Faust Double Feature – Severin & Forest Underground
Severin: Lydian Faust
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
For me, poetry is one of the hardest things to review. Poems are so personal to the writer and discussing what speaks to you as a reader can leave you feeling vulnerable. It’s like catching your own reflection in someone else’s soul and trying to explain the experience. But that uncomfortable feeling is also a sign of great art, and I think Severin meets that criteria.
The collection begins with “Severin” which reads: “Severin slew her six sinning sisters- / strung them up on monkey bars / and waited for the stars to fall.” It’s an intriguing start and is what ties the collection together as the other poems relate to those sisters and what they represent.
As the book unfolds, Severin and her sisters appear to portray the guises of the seven deadly sins within the modern world. Pride exhibited in a never-ending quest for more followers on social media, the destruction of our planet through greed, and our sloth of looking busy for media posts while doing as little as possible in the real world. Now, this is not to say the poems come across as some sort of religious soapboxing, I found them to be quite the contrary. Using complex imagery, blending science fiction and horror, the themes are present yet subtle.
The last entry in the collection, a short story called “Little Gus,” was my absolute favourite. If Beatrix Potter wrote a parable about gluttony, this would be it. Relying on her strength of setting nightmarish fairy tales, Lydian Faust tells the tale of rabbit people, the hard-hearted scythe-men, and the grotesque monstrosity known as “Mother.”
My only criticism is that most of the poems are quite short. In some cases that works, but in others, it felt like we were only glancing the surface of a boiling rage. I wanted to linger in that feeling of wrath for just a little longer, until it blistered my hand, providing proof of the pain I’d touched.
Overall though Severin is a fantastic collection, and I hope to read more of Faust’s poetry in the future.
Forest Underground: Lydian Faust
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
My earliest fascination for the darker side of fiction grew from hearing fairy tales as a child. As I got older, I tended to think of those bedtime stories as wholesome and comforting, until I reread them as an adult. Witches who want to eat small children, poisoned apples as gifts, and hungry wolves who roam the woods – wow, they’re dark! And Forest Underground by Lydian Faust reminded me in so many ways of those wonderfully ghoulish tales from my childhood, though much more gruesome. Suffice to say, I loved it!
The story begins with Luna reliving her childhood traumas as guided by Dr. Alisha Sizemore in a private psychiatric facility. Luna recalls wearing a red coat, carrying a heavy picnic basket through the forest to her grandmother’s house and something else lurking in the shadows. So far sounds like “Little Red Riding Hood” and there are many similarities, but then Luna’s story takes an even stranger twist. Memories of a small stone cottage, her first love, and human sacrifices are eased out of Luna by the doctor – or are they?
When detectives find a cottage crawlspace filled with corpses, matching Luna’s memories of slaughter, of course, Luna is a suspect. However, Dr. Sizemore might be just as skilled at planting memories as she is at extracting them. Both women have reason to lie to the police and digging through their violent and tragic pasts only further muddies the waters on who is telling the truth.
Part fairy tale, part detective mystery, Forest Underground grabbed me on the first page and didn’t let go. What I found most fascinating was that the further along in the story I got, the less sure I was about what was real. Selfish motives, abuse of power, and histories of trauma line both characters up as unreliable, heightening my interest in figuring out who should be believed.
On top of that, Faust’s writing is beautiful and understated. One of my favourite passages was the description of Luna’s surroundings: “She’s kept in a cloud. All white, padded walls, even the bedroom furniture is upholstered with rounded corners…Safe from herself. She ought to be grateful.” The author knows when to use details sparingly, when to let them flow, and brilliantly guides the reader through bizarre twists and turns while keeping them right where she wants them.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Forest Underground and other works by this talented author.
SEVERIN is a collection of poems that delve into in heart of dark matter.
Science fiction spliced with horror. Quantum visions of pain. Includes two micro-fic tales.
Luna was lost.
Hospitalized following an incident in a local grocery store, she finds herself volunteered for treatment by the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr Sizemore.
As the doctor’s interest in her new patient grows, Luna reveals shocking details of her past. Ailing grandmothers, seductive strangers and a blood-soaked childhood are only the tip of the iceberg as her revelations paint a picture more akin to a twisted and nightmare-fuelled fairy-tale.
Detailing this case for the publication of a book, Dr Sizemore’s fascination reveals a dark history of her own. One that continues to haunt her to the present day.
The pair take a journey, twisting and turning through the labyrinths of their psyches. Through lands, fertile with anguish and dread.
Join them if you dare, to a place where glowing eyes are forever watching, lurking in the shadows of this internal woodland; of this forest underground.
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan