Unfinished Business: Tales of the Dark Fantastic by Catherine Lundoff

I would like to that Queen of Swords for an advance copy of this collection in exchange for a fair and honest review

Publisher – Queen of Swords Press

Published – Out Now

Price - £1.64 Kindle eBook £6.51 paperback

Haunted houses. Vengeful spirits. Wronged Women. A glimpse of grim future and a visit to a terrifying past. Step inside for a taste of nightmare, a bit of the unexpected and a touch of the weird…

And we are here in October where the weather and season turns; the nights darken as we start to feel more comfortable at home rather than wandering in the dark. Like many of you at times like this I love to hear tales of ghosts and the things that go bump in the night. Queen of Swords press are just about to launch a new series of author focused of author short stories and novellas collections.  In Unfinished Business this starts with the work of Catherine Lundoff and provide s a smart, scary and progressive set of horror tales – perfect for a dark and stormy night.  Among my favourites are: -

The Mask and The Amontillado - a very good start to the collection reminiscent of Poe but with the twist of our main character’s secret being that they are trans. A rival is starting to become suspicious so a plan to silent their rival for good unfolds.  You’ll recognise the set up, but it’s delivered very well.

A Splash of Crimson – this is a very unsettling tale of a young governess who appears to be haunted by her recently deceased Mistress/ It’s mysterious; haunting and never explicit into what is the secret hiding in the background – uncomfortable but engrossing

Bluebeard’s Wife – this is the most disturbing tale into the mind of a 19th century surgeon. The connection with a fairly notorious crime is easy to see but the way the tale shows you his appalling worldview underneath his upper-class persona. The ending is verrrry satisfactory.

Duchess – another disturbing tale where a local noble’s servant meets a Duke to discuss a marriage arrangement and he finds the place and a portrait of the Duke’s previous wife disconcerting.  Quickly the situation for the Duke worsens.  You can see where the tale holds but there is a degree of seeing someone get revenge from the grave is rather just in my opinion.

Medium Mechanique – A very different setting as we travel to an alternate steampunk London. A woman wants to try to talk via medium to her lover Annabel. The medium though uses a mechanical eye to contact the dead.  Its brilliantly weird and unsettling as we try to work out what is going on and the answer feels uncomfortable.

Miss Lucy’s Glass – Another disturbing tale where we see the servant of Miss Lucy (who we may recognise from the tale of a famous vampire). Shaw is in love with her mistress but stands aside as she has various suitors and then starts to feel unwell. Shaw too finds herself drawn to a voice in the darkness.  When love turns to obsession things can be tragic and horrific – actually my favourite in the collection.

Preserves – In the far future where a grim choice awaits some of the last remnants of humanity someone is making Blood Orange Marmalade.  Simple, troubling and heart-breaking.