The Eye That Blinds by S.E. Scully is a novella published by speculative fiction publisher DarkFuse. The story involves three young adults in their twenties who have been close friends since college. Two have actually been romantically involved in the past. While the basic plot centers around the destructive impact of social media on their lives—and their subsequent lack of trust of one another—the unfolding events are chilling and creepy. Scully is a fine writer and the interaction among the characters is convincingly portrayed. A final page count of around 80 pages means the story blazes along. The author smartly keeps the action and narrative superficial, and you hardly notice the reliance on unlikely psychotic breaks by some characters, simultaneous dumb decisions by other characters, and unbelievable coincidences to propel the story along. Still, a fun 3-star read.
Flesh and Coin by Craig Saunders is about a hospice where the dying are being haunted and, in some cases, killed by something called the Shadowman. The main characters include two nurses (one kind and caring, the other sadistic and insensitive), a patient near death who is trying to make sense of the goings-on while barely surviving in a morphine daze, the hospice director, and a police detective. The characters are well-developed for such a short novella and the atmosphere is alive in detail. You experience the sights and smells of elderly patients in their last days. There are a number of interrelated subplots including the origins of the ghostly Shadowman, a patient’s violent and criminal past, an illicit affair between a nasty nurse and the hospice director, and a curse administered by an ancient gypsy woman. The latter was an enjoyable character and her appearance really pushed the story along. While the disparate subplots don’t quite hold together in a seamless narrative, the story was creepy and the plot clever enough to maintain interest – and the pages flowed.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.