"Children & Other Wicked Things" Book Review
Written by Scathe meic Beorh
2013, 202 pages, Fiction
Released on April 30th, 2013
Horror wouldn't be the great thing it is without creepy kids. From The Children of the Corn to The Omen and The Girl Next Door, it seems like evil and kids go hand in hand very well both in written and visual form. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why Scathe meic Beorh's Children & Other Wicked Things works: every one of the 37 stories in the compilation involves children and their views, actions, and unique perspective.
The stories in Children & Other Wicked Things all involve children, but they run the gamut when it comes to length, tone, and subject matter. There are some elements that permeate this tome: Halloween, the things that make the woods so scary at night, fear of dilapidated houses, learning lessons, and accepting what you see because your innocence is intact. However, each story contains something that gives it individuality. The result is a collection that's fun to read and shows that Beorh put a lot of time and effort into it. Since discussing more than 30 stories would be crazy, here are a few of the ones I enjoyed most:
- "The Witch of Faith Lane". When a bunch of kids have to face their local scary legend, the reader ends up being the one who's surprised. The narrative also establishes a recurring theme in the collection: that there's always something behind children's stories. This opening story helps set the mood for the rest of the book.
- "Buried" is a one-page short tale that, despite its briefness, manages to convey just how vicious kids can be and how adults better be careful when entering their world.
- "Dormer Window" is somewhat reminiscent of Bentley Little's work because it starts and develops in the perfectly normal and very believable world of a family's home and daily life, but then takes an unexpected turn that shatters all normalcy and shines a new light on what came before. Another tale, "The Blonde Girl in the Alley", deserves the same praise.
- "To Drown a Wagon" is one of those short stories that stretches the definition of horror. It mixes fear, pain, and the awful experiences and losses that inexorably push each child closer to adulthood. It also features a horror fiction staple: a dead dog.
- "Amelia", one of the shortest narratives in the book, is also one of the creepiest because it brings together religion, fear, and mystery. In fact, the tension is never released and the reader walks away with almost as much information as he or she had before reading it.
Children & Other Wicked Things is a trip to the magical, mysterious, and scary universe that children inhabit. It's a place where imagination is allowed to roam free and there are no preconceived notions about what could be real and what belongs to another world. Beorh is a talented author with a unique voice, and the fact that he crammed more than 30 distinctive stories into 200 pages is a testament to that. If you forgot what it was like to know that something ominous lived at the end of the street, pick this up today.