The Review of Australian fiction produces two stories every fortnight, introducing emerging and experienced Australian authors to a wider readership. Each issue is edited/curated by a guest editor. In this issue we have Kate Eltham, Director of the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. Kate is reasonably well known in Queensland and in Speculative Fiction and she’s drawn on those communities to give us Western Australian speculative fiction author Lee Battersby and talented Queensland newcomer Amanda O’Callaghan.
Lee is a well known aficionado of the macabre and lives up to form in The Canals of Anguilar. A world/dimension hopping tale of cowards on the run. I read this story shortly before going to sleep – not advisable. It’s not particularly horrific in content but Battersby does manage to deliver presence of understated creeping dread.
And this tone is where these two stories mesh quite well. O’Callaghan in her realist piece Legacy, manages to paint an ordinary picture of idyllic seaside England and underline it with, if not creeping dread, a certain weighty sadness.
The Canals of Anguilar as an introduction to non-speculative fiction readers is a good choice. There’s some grounding in the real world before we make our way across worlds or dimensions and how this is done is mostly hand waved in folk tale like fashion.There’s no need to have a significant reading in the classics of the genre. The dread Battersby conjures up translates across all genres.
For readers who don’t generally read realistic or literary fiction I think O’Callaghan does a good job of revealing subtle horror in the everyday ( I shall say no more).
I am happy to have read another Battersby tale ( he hasn’t disappointed me yet) and am keen to read some more of O’Callaghan’s work. So a successful pairing to my reckoning.
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