A friend bought this for me, I think because of the hours we devoted in our misspent youth to discussing horror films. Since having kids, I’m not as enthusiastic about horror as I once was (I seem to be more easily scared than I used to be), but I still enjoy the genre and the tingle of being frightened every once in a while. And I was pleased to find that Boyczuk isn’t going for the easy scare with the stories in this collection. The stories touch on very basic and universal human issues (which is a good part of what makes them so scary), and they have literary merit to boot.
Boyczuk explores issues of love and the intricacies of relationships while giving his readers the willies. His characters find that issues in their subconscious with which they haven’t dealt become manifest in the outside world. Love is portrayed as a kind of addiction, and sex as a way of taking something from another person (most literally in the story “Doing Time,” which the notes at the back say was first published in the book Erotica Vampirica, which should give some sense of what sort of story it is).
I found it enjoyable (if disturbing) to see how Boyczuk makes the inner workings of his characters’ psyches part of their external worlds. I found the last story in the collection, “Horror Story,” to be the scariest. I read it after everyone else was in bed and it took a great deal of bravery on my part to turn out the lights all over the house before I turned in for the evening. I’m glad I didn’t read it while my husband was out of town.