Review: Showtime by Narrelle M. Harris

ShowtimeHarrisSeries: Twelve Planets #5
Published by: Twelfth Planet Press
ISBN 13: 9780987216212 (ebook)
ISBN 13: 9780987216205 (paperback)
ASIN: B008GPV4V0 (kindle)
Published: January 2012
Pages: 124
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Related Reviews: A Journey Through Twelve Planets / Site for the challenge

Showtime is the fifth book in the Twelve Planets series, released by Twelfth Planet Press, which showcase the talent of female Australian authors. There is now to be a thirteenth in the series, but that’s a review for another time. The brief given to authors was to write 4 short stories of up to 40,000 words in total. The stories could be separate, discrete narratives or linked through character, setting or theme.

This collection contains four unconnected stories about vampires, ghosts, witches, zombies. As you can probably guess, these are more into the ‘horror’ side of speculative fiction but most remain at the accessible level of horror – a bit creepy but not at the level where you have to put the book down and go play with a puppy in the sunshine to get past it.

Stalemate

A mother has come to stay will her ill 30-year-old daughter, to lovingly nurse her back to health. Only while the mother tries well it’s more about her own health issues (reminds me a little of the mother in Pride & Prejudice), and how no one appreciates her. The daughter takes the opportunity to finally say what’s been bothering her for her whole life, however the mother isn’t really there to listen.

This one was quite electric, where you think you know exactly where it’s going until it throws you a curve ball (or two). It works so well because while you don’t see it coming, so many things make sense when the ending is revealed.

Thrall

Set in Hungary, vampires still exist. A family beholden to him come to his call every time he wakes from his 100 year slumber. It’s usually the fittest male of the family, so he’s not amused when an older woman turns up, suffering a cold and both lactose and gluten intolerant (so basically, me.) Regardless, he’ll take her help. She’s to come to his castle at a certain time, with certain ingredients to ensure his slumber can continue, even if he’s starting to really hate how the world is these days, what with the security cameras everywhere, and people uploading things to youtube.

This one was really excellent. Vampire lore is twisted up together to cover seemingly all bases, and it really does feel real. Erzsebet, the woman, is marvellous and strong – even though he thinks that people of today don’t compare to those from his time at all. Because of her intolerances and allergies he thinks that in his day, people like her wouldn’t have survived infancy and that it was a good thing. Hence, he underestimates her, much to his own ill luck.

The Truth About Brains

The things kids do sometimes is stupid. Stupid dares, stupid ways to try to fix things before their parents find out… this one really takes the cake, though. Two kids dare Amy’s younger brother Dylan into climbing over something in a derelict house. He falls and dies – blood everywhere, broken bones, the lot. When Amy is brought to the scene the two kids assure her it’ll be alright, because they have a way to fix this. A magic spell to bring the dead back to life. Only that means zombies, doesn’t it?

This captures the way kids interact with each other so perfectly. The way they speak and the way they pass along a message like calling someone totally different in order to get them to tell so-and-so to do a thing. Or at least it was this way before everyone had a mobile phone, I suppose. It also captures parents quite well, and I love how, like in Thrall, someone in underestimated.

Showtime

This one features characters from Narrelle’s novel The Opposite of Life, and features vampires yet again. A vampire (Gary, wears Hawaiian shirts) and a human (Lissa, librarian) go to the Melbourne Show. You don’t need to have read her novel (as I haven’t) to get a feel for these characters, as she gently refers to their previous adventures in a non-info-dump kind of way – it makes you want to read more about them. We see how vampires are surviving in Melbourne and how the public even help them out (humans will do anything to feel part of a special elite group, above the other normals), and you also get a good feel for Melbourne Show itself.

What’s good about this, and the whole collection, is how it shows how horror is in everyday life and/or lurking there, but how mundane it also is or can be, kind of like how Harry Potter can exist so easily through London and surrounds. It gives the anthology a depth of being just below the surface, and it’s all very well handled.

This collection has the following mentions:

‘Stalemate’, appears in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012.

One thought on “Review: Showtime by Narrelle M. Harris

  1. Pingback: Showtime: Review Roundup | A Journey Through the Twelve Planets

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