Tales of Unease: Riding the Nightmare by Lisa Tuttle

Tales of Unease: Riding the Nightmare by Lisa Tuttle

Riding the Nightmare (Valancourt Books, August 22, 2023). Cover by Vince Haig

Lisa Tuttle was born in USA, but relocated to the UK many years ago. She is a successful novelist, but especially a great short story writer, the author of numerous collections of dark fiction.

Her latest collection, forthcoming from the small but excellent imprint Valancourt Books, collects twelve previously published stories and is introduced by Neil Gaiman who, very aptly, emphasizes the Aickmanesque nature (meaning it somehow recalls the atmosphere of Robert Aickman) of some tales.

As a short fiction lover, a Lisa Tuttle fan, and a long time admirer of Aickman, my expectations for this book were high. And I was not disappointed.

Incidentally, please notice that the main characters of the stories included are usually women.

The title story “Riding the Nightmare” is an insightful, masterful piece revealing the deepest secrets hidden in the heart of a woman uncertain about her role as a wife and a new mother.

“Bits and Pieces” is an offbeat, extremely original tale about a woman and her difficult relationship with men, whose pieces tend to remain with her.

Vaguely inspired to the famous MR James story of the same title, “The Mezzotint” can be defined as a tense piece of psychological horror with a slightly predictable yet unsettling ending.

“After the End” is a delightful August Dupin crime story never previously told, while “The Man in the Ditch” is a skillfully created tale of unease and premonition.

Among the remaining stories, I’d like to mention the disturbing “The Third Person,” featuring a woman having an affair and meeting her lover in the apartment of her best friend, and the ambiguous “A Home in the Sky,” where a small house that attracts the attention of a lonely spinster looking for a new home proves to be much different from what she was expecting, and the gentle “The Hungry Hotel,” a tale with a dream-like character describing how a  brief encounter forever changes a woman’s life.

Needless to add, a highly recommended book.

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. His last review for us was Lynda E. Rucker’s third collection, Now It’s Dark.

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