Paul Kane: Kane’s Scary Tales
Reviewed by Brian Bogart
We’ve all grown up with them. Our childhoods would not have been the same without them. Maybe even our adult lives, as well. They are a part of every culture, life lessons wrapped up with a nice little bow; stories we tell children to warn them of the evils of the world and to entertain. While Disney and the modern world have taken many elements away from the original tales and glossed over them with song and dance numbers and pastel paints, the core of the truths within always are dark and brooding. Waiting for one fatal slip to expose their sharp fangs and glistening claws.
Thankfully, Paul Kane revels in those shadowy bits and ‘Kane’s Scary Tales: Volume 1‘ twists them for our reading pleasure. Between the pages are five stories that pay homage to some classics. ranging from Snow White to even Goldilocks. Each tale is unique and original, wearing the influences on their sleeves proudly. There are even a few connections to each other, if you pay attention.
The collection kicks off with ‘Snow’, which has some wonderful passages throughout. Evil stepmothers really are the focus here and Ruth definitely fits the bill. It’s the moment that Snow is introduced to the ‘dwarves’ that really got me interested. These are not the Sleepy and Bashful variety: these are sightless monstrosities scavenging in the deep underground caverns. Scrounging around in the dark with only the light of her cell phone, will she survive to confront her evil stepmother?
“They were not that big, about the size of chimps she estimated, but their skin was as pale as their eyes. It was slick, that flesh, and lumpy, knotted – but the way they were moving showed that this extended to their bones as well…”
Next, is ‘Sleeper(s)’. This Sleeping Beauty-inspired story takes the idea of a sleeping sickness spiralling out of control, with plenty of military and survivor elements to satisfy some of the zombie/post-apocalyptic fans out there. Though the road it travels is well-worn, the descriptions of the Sleepers and details of their infection make this story very unique.
“Except the person she was looking at wasn’t awake, was he. That is to say, sure, he was sitting up, but his eyes were still healed over, the secretions still attached to him like candyfloss to a stick. He was staring right at her, but not really seeing. How could he, with his eyes welded shut like that?”
‘Sin’ takes the form of a police procedural, tracking down a serial killer. Bits of the film ‘Se7en’ get entangled with Cinderella and I really liked the cop-noir retelling of a man falling in love with a blonde who had travelled to the wrong side of the tracks, seeking respite from her home life. Yep. Stepmother strikes again.
‘Who’s Been…?’ is deceptively simple, just like Goldilocks herself. Cue a girl with a horrible home life and a trek into a house she shouldn’t be in. Who owns the house and will she make it home in one piece? Let’s just say that some sharp teeth and claws are involved and not entirely as expected.
Last but not least, we have ‘Giants’. While my least favorite story personally, there is some wonderful imagery at play in this Jack and the Beanstalk tale of Big Business and shady dealings.
Kane’s writing style with these tales is almost conversational, which depending on the reader will either resonate with them or it won’t. But, if they think back to the stories which inspired them, at least one of the five stories between the pages will hit home. My two personal faves were ‘Sleeper(s)’ and ‘Sin’. “Snow’ was a beautiful introduction to this collection and I think if the readers enjoy that story they will slip into the others almost immediately.
Vivid descriptions and easy-to-read, “Kane’s Scary Tales: Volume One” works on the same level as a devilish bedtime story: its simplicity makes your mind wander as you drift off to sleep.
The world can be a horrifying place, but fairy tales can come true. Sometimes, in ways that you didn’t expect. Shadows have a funny way of lingering, like a kiss in the dark.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4****
Brian Bogart is an American author of dark fiction and horror/fantasy. He has written stories most of his life and has been a fan of the genre since the age of seven. His approach to storytelling is a tad macabre at times but tries to capture the nuances of the humanity and sometimes, inhumanity, beneath the surface. He supports the horror community with bloodied open arms and demonic vigor.
Dream Darkly and Keep Writing.
You can follow Brian on Twitter @DreamsDarkly
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Once upon a time… A young woman runs through a snowy wasteland, fearing for her life, only to find help from an unexpected source… A whole town falls asleep, resulting in a joint US/UK military and scientific expedition to find out what happened… A serial killer with a penchant for severed feet strikes again… A teenage girl seeks refuge in a strange house, only for its owners to return… A man wins at cards, then is made an offer he can’t refuse…
With an introduction by World Fantasy Award-winning author Angela Slatter (the Verity Fassbinder series) and cover art by the legendary Les Edwards, join bestselling and award-winning author of RED and Blood RED, Paul Kane, as he once again gives well-loved fairy tales a modern, horror spin. Living happily ever after is far from guaranteed!
You can buy Kane’s Scary Tales from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Praise for Paul Kane
‘Kane is a first-rate storyteller’ – Clive Barker
‘Kane’s foot never gets close to the brake pedal’ – Peter Straub
‘He knows how to make you want to avoid the shadows and the cracks in the pavement’ – Mike Carey
‘Kane finds the everyday horrors buried within us, rips them out and serves them up in these deliciously dark tales’ – Kelley Armstrong
‘Kane’s scary tales will take you down shadowy paths’ – Angela Slatter
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