Strange Gateways by Simon Kurt Unsworth – Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

strange-gateways-jhc-simon-kurt-unsworth-2139-p[ekm]301x420[ekm]Strange Gateways

by Simon Kurt Unsworth

PS Publishing 2014

Hardcover ,148 pages

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

The third collection by Simon Kurt Unsworth is actually his second, appearing in print later than his most recent work (the remarkable collection Quiet Houses). Thus the present book assembles eleven earlier stories penned by this talented British author who, in a few years, has managed to gain respect and acclaim in the dark fiction area.

Having greatly admired his more recent body of work, I confess I was slightly disappointed by some of the material featured in Strange Gateways. A strange mix of horror and pulp fiction, the present collection cannot be considered as a real setback, but is not certainly up to my expectations.

Again, what we have here is a bunch of old tales which, evidently, are particularly dear to the author, maybe more because of the circumstances under which they have been written (as described in the interesting Afterword) than for their intrinsic value.

Don’t get me wrong: Unsworth is always worth reading (pun intended) and the book includes three outstanding pieces that I’d like to mention.

“The Knitting Child” is a delicate, insightful tale very effectively portraying a young bride saddened by her inability to get pregnant; “Implementing the Least Desirable Solution” is a quite horrific, scaring and breathtaking tale about a murderous, impossibly strong monster getting rid of the inept scientists devoted to investigate its nature; “Mami Wata” is another powerful , memorable piece of supernatural horror, set in a mine in Zambia where a terrible secret is lurking.

Those three stories alone amply deserve the purchase of the book.