A Review of The Old Friend

by Chantelle Atkins

The Old Friend — A Collection of Tales and Poems by Chantelle Atkins is tweaked toward a more generous description by adding one key word: A Collection of DARK Tales and Poems. This is not to say HORROR, per se. No, this is something better. Where horror is more accurately depicted by the inclusion of graphically gruesome scenarios, even the undisputed Master of this genre is at his best when simply skirting the edges of graphic imagery in lieu of provocatively dark hints about everyday reality. In that regard, Mr. King would be genuinely pleased by the works of Ms. Atkins as presented here. For, although a few truly grotesque scenes are included in these tales, Atkins mostly writes about what scares us most: the terror — only thinly veiled — lying just behind our daily being.

And so, the title of this collection, The Old Friend — taken from Chantelle Atkins’s first story — might metaphorically relate to our own darker sides, representing our more demonic aspects, who shun the light of day. These are what the author chooses to shine her own light on, even if obliquely. Which is an incredibly engaging technique, as Ms. Atkins first entices you innocently into her otherworld, as in the dark story Read First, Die Later, only then to abandon you to the worst nightmares of your own imagination. The result, of course, is to make you question the presumed benevolence of your shallow daily life, and to foster the paranoid side of considering: What if? What if? What if, indeed. I’m afraid these stories may cling to you, like … well, like an old friend.

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