Review written by Shiela Tamerline
"September And Other Stories" by Julie Ann Dawson
Author: Julie Ann Dawson
Publisher: Lulu Press
softcover, 188 pgs
Simultaneously dark, creepy, and quirky, September and Other Stories is a collection of 16 horror short stories and poems by writer Julie Ann Dawson. Horror fans looking for something original and entertaining will enjoy the range of writing styles and unexpected plot twists that fill this book.
The collection includes a variety of flash fiction pieces, including my favorite story, Voodoo. Voodoo relates the events that transpired when a co-worker asked the author to make a voodoo doll of their boss. Dawson's wit and odd sense of humor come into play beautifully in this story. Another flash fiction piece, A Daughter's Pride, focuses on a young woman's thirst for revenge after her aging parents are the victims of home invaders. Bad Karma tells the tale of a selfish man who awakens from a bad dream, only to discover it wasn't a dream after all.
Dawson's short stories are engaging and thought-provoking. The story To Dine With a Demon tells the tale of a writer who agrees to a dinner date with a young college co-ed, and discovers she's not what she appears to be. But this isn't your normal "sell-your-soul" story. Instead, the demon isn't looking for the writer's soul, but his help in the final battle against God. Dawson presents an alternative theory behind the Fall of Humanity that leaves you wondering whos side you should be on. Bus 264 is a reverse ghost story of sorts, telling the tale of a frightened teenager who, upon discovering she was pregnant, decides to try and get to the clinic for an abortion before her parents come home from vacation. The internal and external dialogue between the protagonist and the other girl sharing the bench waiting for the bus is heart-breaking.
In the novella, September, Dawson provokes the feel of early 20th century pulp fiction with a story of three affluent sisters journeying to Cairo in search of the tomb of a forgotten pharaoh. The story is told from the perspective of Natasha Collins, a professor of philosophy and religion who just so happens to possess an uncanny knack for communicating with the dead. The novella is part H. P. Lovecraft, part Mummy Returns, and entirely entertaining. Natasha also appears in the story A Candle for Imbolc, when she and a ghostly companion investigate the death of a fellow professor, and the story The Horror in the Attic, where Natasha is asked by a friend of her mother's to investigate an apparent suicide in the woman's house.
The stories move quickly and the dialoque is fresh and enjoyable. This book is a fine addition to any horror or dark fantasy library.