Mysterious Stones, Hidden Gardens, and Small-town Secrets: Simon Strantzas’ Nothing is Everything

Mysterious Stones, Hidden Gardens, and Small-town Secrets: Simon Strantzas’ Nothing is Everything

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Trade edition. Art by Tran Nguyen

Nothing is Everything
By Simon Strantzas
Undertow Publications (237 pages, $29.99 in hardcover/$17.99 in trade paperback/$4.99 digital, October 16, 2018)

Canadian writer Simon Strantzas is a talented and successful author of dark fiction, whose short stories have been favorably received by both readers and critics. Nothing is Everything, his fifth collection, assembles nine stories (five reprints and four originals), plus a new novella “All Reality Blossoms in Flames.”

The novella just didn’t work for me. Maybe because, as a short story lover, my suspension of disbelief isn’t built for that length, especially when, as is the case here, the plot seems to drag on without any substantial development. But this might be an unfair assessment on my part, and other readers may well enjoy it.

Being more at ease with tales of standard length, I’d like to mention four stories which struck me as particularly accomplished.

“In This Twilight” is a fine, introspective piece featuring a young woman haunted by a tragic memory from her past, who, driving back to her hometown on a bus, finds a glimpse of hope for a better future.

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Hardcover edition. Art by Aron Wiesenfeld

Partly horror, partly SF, the upsetting “The Fifth Stone” revolves around some mysterious stones endowed with strange properties affecting a woman’s physical and mental health.

“The Flow Unfolds” is a clever portrait of a lonesome, shy spinster whose life dramatically changes when she discovers a luxuriant garden on the top floor of her office building.

The highlight of the volume to me is “Our Town’s Talent,” a superlative, insightful story in which the secrets of a small town community become an allegory for the unexpected possibilities hidden in any human being.

At his best, Strantzas is a remarkable author, providing excellent fiction, graced by original plots and a mature narrative style. His latest collection is warmly recommended.

Our previous coverage of Simon Strantzas includes:

Uncanny as a Ventriloquist’s Doll: Nothing is Everything
Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 3, edited by Simon Strantzas and Michael Kelly
Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas
Burnt Black Suns

Order copies directly at the Undertow website.

Mario Guslandi was born in Milan, Italy, where he currently lives. He became addicted to horror and supernatural fiction (too) many years ago, after accidentally reading a reprint anthology of stories by MR James, JS Le Fanu, Arthur Machen etc. Most likely the only Italian who regularly reads (and reviews) dark fiction in English, he has contributed over the years to various genre websites such as Horrorworld, Hellnotes, The British Fantasy Society, The Agony Column and many more.

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