“In 2009, five writers based in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester undertook a ten-week programme of masterclasses run by Dog Horn Publishing and hosted by Borders Leeds. This anthology is a result of that process.“
The rather dry note at the start of the book does not do justice to this 2011 collection of thirteen fantastical short stories by the five writers concerned. A combination of science fiction, horror and fantasy, the book takes the reader to future-world dystopias, bloody and violent fairy-tale lands, the inner life of emotionally traumatised androids and domestic environments where horror waits within the walls and furniture.
Cabala contains four SF stories from Richard Evans, four bloody tales by Rachel Kendall (horror and adult fairy tales), three black pieces by A.J. Kirby, which take an imaginative look at some modern day issues through the lens of horror and science fiction, and one piece each by Jacqueline Houghton and Jodie Daber; the latter producing a graphic story that should thoroughly put anyone off programmes like Britain’s Got Talent and the putrid slab of other brain-dead talent shows currently hogging the T.V. schedules.
Like all good writing, the stories here transcend their genre subject matter and, at the same time as entertaining the reader, shine an almost uniformly gloomy light on the human condition and contemporary society, let alone the societies we may become.
This is a hauntingly dark anthology, with a stimulating variety of approaches, themes and genres, that ought to satisfy anyone who likes their speculative fiction thoughtful, well written and eclectic.