Momento Mori by Angeline Hawkes-Craig. Review by Lisa Schussler
Although incorrectly translated into the Latin term for "reminder of death", this collection is just that. Death does, indeed, reside in these tales of horror, dark fantasy, and historical fiction.
Angeline Hawkes-Craig's tales are littered with all manner of haunting images: crumbling castles, lovers returning from the dead, disease, violence. The collection is also nicely complemented by the black-and-white graveyard photographs scattered throughout, which add to the dreary atmosphere of the stories. The most original and entertaining story, "The Conversationalist", explores the old expression, "Cat got your tongue." "The Devil's Son" is a historical, non-horror tale about revenge. In "The Doll in the Attic", a young son witnesses his mother's descent into madness as she becomes obsessed with a doll she finds in the attic. "Fall from Heaven" is a love story involving a tender, gentle vampire. In "Ophelia" a young woman strikes up a friendship with a ghost in her inherited castle and suffers for it. "The Plague" is one of the most catching stories in the second half of the book. "The Yellow Paper" re-tells the clichéd story of a conversation between two people—one finds out later that the other was already dead at the time of their meeting. It is a weak, unoriginal ending to an otherwise worthwhile collection.
The first half of the book, in my opinion, is the best. By the second half, most of the stories begin to read the same, although, a few stand out. The only other drawback to Momento Mori is one that seems to plague many small press publications I've read: less than ideal editing. Mistakes like incomplete paragraphs, missing words, incorrect spelling, and formatting snafus are distracting and can make a normally pleasurable read frustrating. If you can overlook these errors, the stories can easily satisfy your desire for dark and disturbing fiction.
Lisa Schussler is a medical scientist, long-time reader, and horror fan. She has entered several fiction writing contests and is currently moderator of the Horror Forum on the Bestsellers & Literature online community.