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REVIEW: The All-Soul's Faire (Kristy Tallman)
Category: Writing and Poetry
The All-Soul's Faire
Realm Of Insanity Press
Reviewed By Diane Peebles
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What small town doesn't have homespun rumors and superstitions about its own dark, seedy underbelly? Uncovered layers of secrets masking sinister acts the likes of which would lead one to question the very existence of God - for how could He truly exist if such vile, pure evil is allowed to run wild and unchecked? Staring at the severed head of a goat placed snugly within the bowels of a petrified teenage corpse, Detective Cole Bryant begins to wonder the exact same thing...
And that's just the beginning.
The seemingly ritualistic murder of young Lisa Hicks sets off a series of increasingly bizarre events in the small town of Clifton Forge, each one threatening to unravel the web of lies and deceit within which the town's legacy rests. As more and more corpses are found, their deaths make less and less sense to Cole, who's left to wonder why, for some strange reason, everyone seems to know more than they're willing to say. Ultimately, his unflinching determination to know more leads him to the fabled North Mountain, source of the town's diabolical mystique, where the fate of countless lives hang in the balance - including that of Cole himself.
The All-Soul's Faire is a disturbingly compelling tale that reads much like a snuff film: despite how guilty it makes you feel to watch it, each new turn of the page fills you with a strangely satisfying curiosity. A master at framing the visual with words, Tallman's jarring depictions of ghouls and apparitions are so vivid that - despite your wishes to the contrary - you'll find them lingering with you long after you've put the book down. In fact, they'll haunt you to the point where, when you're all alone late at night, you'll remember all those old ghost stories told over S'mores on campfire-lit nights and wish you had never heard them.
No matter how searing the imagery she employs, though, the true power of Tallman's mind-bending tale lies in leaving you to wonder about the very nature of sin itself: when confronted with unmitigated temptation, do our base desires force us to act - or do they simply free us to do so? In keeping with that theme, Cole's quest for truth is actually a metaphor for the "missions" that fill our own everyday lives: despite our burning desire to know more, that very desire often leaves us unprepared to handle the truth about the very things we seek to find.
As thrilling as Koontz or Barker, and as suspenseful as Hitchcock at his best, The All-Soul's Faire is a delicious soliloquy to the world of horror that begs an encore.