Wednesday 28 October 2015

The Woman Under The Ground, and other stories by Megan Taylor

review by Maryom

I first 'discovered' Megan Taylor through These Seven, a collection of stories promoting Nottingham's bid for UNESCO City of Literature status and her story in that, Here We Are Again, persuaded me that she was an author I wanted to read more by - and this collection has just reinforced that view!

I loved the style of writing, the building of atmosphere, the way it lured me in, often with a false sense of security, and then dropped a bombshell on me!
The over-all tone of this collection is decidedly dark - so don't come looking for sweetness and light, and happy endings; these are a little twisted, a little macabre, and frequently disturbing. While some of the stories explore the darker, hidden side of human nature - children turn out to be far from the darling little angels we fondly imagine, adults are enveloped by loss, regret and guilt - others tell of things 'beyond' nature - strange things that shriek in the night or squat unwelcome at the end of the bed, and wishes that might come fatally true.

Through all of them runs a thread of finding one's identity, and of coming to terms with repressed emotions - maybe The Woman Under The Ground represents those buried parts of ourselves that we wouldn't wish to share with even our nearest and dearest?  I'm content to take things close to face value - to have a story that makes me stop a while and mull it over, but that's all. If, on the other hand, you do enjoy dissecting what you've read, pulling back the layers to reveal inner meanings, you'll find plenty to theorise about.

Something, somewhere, somehow reminded me of Mrs Gaskell's  Curious, If True collection of 'strange tales'. It's a description that fits this collection excellently as there's often an ambivalence about what is real and what imagined. Certainly they've crept under my skin, and now I'm longing for more!

 Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Weathervane Press

 Genre - adult fiction, short stories

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