She Makes Me Smile has gotten a lot of press based on what a particular publisher did under the guise of editing this work, which originally appeared in an anthology. I won’t get into details of this here, because there are plenty of explanations out there, including one from the author included with this story. Suffice it to say, I am happy that the author has had the chance to reveal her story to the public without the adornments installed by others who sought to change her work into something completely different.
She Makes Me Smile is a story told in first person about two people, one of which is bound and gagged and sitting on a couch while the other puzzles over why they have done this horrible act to their one and only friend. There is confusion on their part, though emotions in general are something they don’t really experience…at least not until the urge to tie up their friend and do even worse things to them occurs. That is where the title of the story comes in to play.
This is a simple story, unencumbered by complex details. While the past of the character who narrates is touched upon, no depth of detail yields explanation as to why they’ve crossed the line. And while their victim is definitely female, we don’t know if the main character is a man or a woman, so it is also impossible for us to interpret things based on perceived gender roles. The simple elements of this story make it work, and made me curious. We readers tend to want to fill in the blanks on a tale-anything an author leaves out. Mandy DeGeit has given us a very sparsely drawn on canvas here, which allowed the dark avenues of my own mind to fill in all the gaps. Simple, sparse, and yet effectively disturbing.
You can find She Makes Me Smile here: http://www.amazon.com/She-Makes-Me-Smile-ebook/dp/B0085KMVAO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338051843&sr=8-1
Blood Bound Books has brought together two novella length stories and put them together in one nice package. Two stories about the twists and turns of the human mind, both of these tales are horror stories, but don’t expect any supernatural elements or creatures from beyond from these pages. No, the bogeymen that inhabit their pages are straight from the scariest place on earth: the human mind. In other words, both of these tales could take place in our world with no hint of assistance from other worldly forces…and that is what makes both of these stories so wonderfully diabolical.
Scarecrow, which is the shorter of the two stories, tells the account of a band of gypsies that come to town for a few days and set up camp in a farmer’s field in the British countryside. Margaret, a no nonsense farmer’s wife, has no quarrel with the rovers, despite her husband, Bernard, and everyone else’s belief that they are all thieves and scumbags. Unfortunately for the two of them, they find out just what this band of gypsies are capable of when they perceive that they’ve been insulted and abused. The results are a satisfyingly twisted tale of tragic revenge that left me squirming.
The Madness is a bit longer tale, telling the story of Tony, an assistant bank manager caught up in a huge snowstorm in Colorado, who is forced to take refuge with a family when the storm turns into a blizzard. It doesn’t take long for Tony to realize that he might have been better off freezing to death rather than to enter the home of Dan, Sue, and their boy Phillip. Sue and Phillip seem fine, but Dan isn’t too thrilled with Tony for being there, and there is something about him that seems a bit…off. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Dan isn’t the only one with problems. The Madness is, in its own way, just as twisty and as devious a tale as Scarecrow, though how it plays out is quite different.
Together, these two stories were a quite satisfying duo of psychological twisters. I am so used to stories that rely upon supernatural, or at the very least unnatural forces to elicit a terrified reaction, that it was refreshing to see something that reminded me of how wicked and demented the human animal can be when it thinks of ways to mess with other human minds.
You can find Scarecrow & The Madness here: http://www.amazon.com/Scarecrow-Madness-Craig-Saunders/dp/0984540873/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315272626&sr=1-1