by Gemma Files
She is not the author for you if you scares easily or is easily offensed.
Jan 31, 2021
Richard Martin rated it it was amazing
Gemma Files’ latest macabre collection of horror shorts presents us with darkly poetic tales of cursed movies, dream diaries, doppelgangers, family curses, fairies, lost videos, insomniacs, rituals, cosmic cults, deadly secrets, Armageddons and remaking the universe.
This is an incredibly difficult book to review because it is hard to convey effectively what these stories are about, while simultaneously doing them justice without falling into the trap of either over-simplification or over analysing. Neither is it an easy book to read, but it is an endlessly rewarding one.
Anyone who has read Gemma Files horror work before will recognize her incredible talent for maintaining a constant sense of dread and unease throughout all her stories. She deals in themes and subject so cosmically large that there is a real ‘anything goes’ sense, but stories are typically set in an all too familiar down to earth situation. There are the unfathomably powerful and evil forces at work in ‘The Puppet Motel’, living in a Toronto based Airbnb, or the existential terror of ‘Venio’ where a student writing exercise unleashes an unstoppable and inexplicable darkness upon their normal, everyday existence. Each story is grounded in a familiar reality before Files introduces inconceivably high, Lovecraftian-esque stakes with a level of creativity so uniquely her own that you would be hard pushed to find any other horror author writing today so adept at getting to the core at what really frightens people.
Some stories are incredibly rich and dense, rewarding those willing to pore over every detail, while some are more straight-forward and accessible, taking the form of a radio interview (‘Bulb’) or fairy-tale inspired monologue (‘Cuckoo’). There are moments of extreme violence (the opening tale, ‘This is How it Goes’ has some truly horrifying imagery), the oddly surreal (‘Come Closer’) and the dream-like (‘Sleep Hygiene’). A lot of these stories genuinely terrified me (reading ‘Cut Scene’ just before bed was a huge mistake) and some are so laden with existential dread (‘Worm Moon’, ‘Distant Dark Places’) that I needed to put the book down and pick up something different before pressing on.
While there is a lot of variety, ‘In That Endlessness, Our End’ feels like a very cohesive collection. There are a lot of shared themes, to the point where a lot of the shorts feel very interconnected and, sometimes even a retelling of the same event from a different perspective. I found it to be an incredibly difficult book to put down for long, constantly telling myself ‘just one more’ until the final page.
‘In That Endlessness, Our End’ is a book that defies categorization, but what it undoubtedly is, is a book that will challenge you as it switches so deftly between so many conflicting themes and feelings. It is an incredible collection; one that reminded me just what I love so much about horror fiction and one I cannot recommend highly enough.