Every once in a while a collection of short stories comes along that’s not your average read. The Shaman: And other shadows by Alessandro Manzetti mixes horror, supernatural terror and distopic science fiction. This book may be short it but still manages to pack in 6 stories and a poem. The first entry is called The Mount Meru. The story takes place in Tanzania and centers on a mother and son who are going to a sacred mountain and run into a group of raiders with plans on torturing them. There are more frightening things in the forest than raiders though, as a group of monsters come along to change everything. I didn’t fully understand this story but it was different than anything I’ve ever read and I liked the way Alessandro described everything.
Another story in this book is Regnum Congo which is based on The Picture In The House by HP Lovecraft. Other tales in this collection look at a futuristic Paris where a Shaman finds missing people with an ancient ritual, a wolf in search of souls, a family who hides monsters in their basement and a neighborhood changed by the apocalypse. I thought some of the stories here were hard to follow but the dark imagery made this book a good read. There are some great ideas here and I found myself wanting more.
I also got another book recently that was co-written by Alessandro Manzetti and Corrine De Winter called Venus Intervention. This is a collection of poetry which is described in the introduction by Benjamin Kane Ethridge as a nightmare journey. The poems here will definitely give you nightmares as they describe horrors that you usually don’t see in poetry. Its divided into two sections which I liked because both authors have distinct voices and it really showed how different both poets are with Corrine’s more emotional section going first and Alessandro’s darker section following it up.
To demonstrate the difference one of my favorite poems here by Corrine De Winter was What Love Story Doesn’t End In Hell Or In A Whorehouse? I took this poem as being about love going bad, in a few short lines it managed to be funny and tragic and showed that Corrine doesn’t need a lot of words to get her point across and it gave us a dark love story that will stick with you. Going in a different direction, my favorite poem in Venus Intervention by Alessandro is Waiting, which is about a grim reaper looking down on Earth and describing what she sees. This one combines elements of horror and science fiction and paints a darkly disturbing picture. Once again this one was a completely different style of poetry and shows that you can say a lot in just a short amount of space.
I don’t consider myself a fan of poetry. In fact I usually have trouble understanding it, but there were some great poems here that really moved me, such as Habit by Corrine De Winter which states that poetry is everywhere and in every person. Venus Intervention is a work of art and shows how powerful words can be.
The last book I want to mention in this post is Dark Gates-Roads To Hell And Limbo . This is another short story collection that includes two stories each by Paolo Di Orazio and Alessandro Manzetti. The stories here have to do with an apocalyptic future, the gates to hell and what its like to be in limbo. All the literature I’ve read by Alessandro Manzetti lean towards the genre of weird fiction and Dark Gates is no exception.
Alessandro’s two stories are called Lu’Lu and Limbus. Both stories focus on the futurisic slums of Paris. One deals with a prostitute and has a disturbing ending while the other deals with female gladiators in an arena. Alessandro paints a grim version of the future and does a great job of bringing it to life by describing violent scenes and having realistic characters that have seen the worst of society and lived to tell about it.
The other two stories are called Hell and Brain Dama, they are by Paolio Di Orazio and show a sharp contrast to the works of Alessandro. Hell deals with an old man who decides to check out a coffin in his attic. The coffin has been there since he was young and what lies inside just might be the old man’s worst nightmare. I liked how this dealt with the fear of getting older. The next story was Brain Dama, it takes place in present day Rome and gets into some creepy experiments being performed on brains. This was another story with a rather disturbing ending that left me smiling. This was a good anthology with some excellent twists that made me want to find more books by both authors.