Sunday, October 27, 2013

30 Scary Tales by Rayne Hall - Book Review

Thirty Scary Tales by Rayne Hall is a collection of short stories encompassing an array of settings, narration styles and topics with theme of ‘scary’.

One should remember the varying difference between scary and horrifying. This collection is scary, occasionally gory, but rarely horrifying. Some tales involve elements of the supernatural – which I adore; while others are inspired from the writer’s real-life events, making these tales scarier than the supernatural ones.

There are tales of vampires, ghosts, magic and dreams and other supernatural elements. They are all beautiful and enjoyable but do not compare to the pleasure and intrigue I experienced while reading The Grey Walker, Arete, Through the Tunnel, The Colour of Dishonour, Burning and The Painted Staircase – just to name a few.

There are a few stories set in Rayne Hall’s dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer such as The Colour of Dishonour, The Grey Walker, and Each Stone, A Life. Each of these stories is exceptional in its vividness, creativity and unfathomable twists! You have no idea what you’re up against!

Hall’s use of imagery is consistent with her settings. An example of such imagery is seen in Never Leave Me, “My heart beat like the hooves of a herd of cattle.” The image is consistent with a farmer's background.

Thirty Scary Tales boasts a ton of stunning imagery in this collection, whether scary or just plain beautiful. The reader cannot help but highlight and enjoy.

Hall uses an array of settings for tales ranging from Germany to England to Turkey, and extending from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages to modern times.

As I have said, some tales stood out. Among them is The Grey Walker with its use of a zombie-like creature, a parallelism with the trade made by Dr. Faustus, and its staggering imagery. It is a carefully-crafted story that will live on. I’m not a fan of zombies, but this story was different for me and I loved every bit of it. Few would find a beautiful image such as this in a zombie-like tale: “But his actions had not been waterdrops that evaporated in the sun without leaving a trace. They had been cruel flames, scorching deep holes into Laina's defenceless heart.

The Grey Walker ends at a climactic point. We finally know why the witch never mentioned a payment at the beginning. Turgan is not mindless, nor is he innately evil but he ends up being a Greywalker and understands his purpose.
The Grey Walker is a 10-star story.

Another Storm Dancer-set story is The Colour of Dishonour with its layers of puns and irony (“I have blood on my hands”). I still cannot shake off the admiration (for Hall) and the horror (for the Captain). The Colour of Dishonour is another 10-star story.

By Your Own Free Will makes you think: How far would you go for love? How much are you willing to sacrifice to be noticed by one man? Would you trade your IQ for it?

The final story in Thirty Scary Tales is called Burning. And I have not found a word to describe my love and respect for this story. It is written from the perspective for a seven-year-old girl; so naturally, her thoughts highlight the flaws of grown-ups and carry some comic relief as seen when she thinks that insurance “prevented families from getting burnt.

Burning boasts many layers of love, trust, and ideology. It is an intense and deep tale. The reader sees how the girl feels a yearning for the love found in the Arab family that burnt to death, a love this is denied her in her own family. Her father is obviously cold, uncaring and pretends to be a know-it-all based on pre-conceived ideas that he speaks out as if they were facts. The girl sympathises with the Arab family simply because they care for their children unlike her father, whom she couldn't even picture saving her from a fire.

Special thanks to Rayne Hall for creating and collecting this set of stories in a single volume and for sending me a free copy of Thirty Scary Tales for a Halloween review. I enjoyed reading them all. As for the Storm Dancer-set stories, this collection has prompted me to begin reading the dark epic novel as soon as I can.

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