Dark, dank holes in the ground. Cellars. Sinister corners. Stale, damp air. In the anthology, Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror, editor Shawna L. Bernard has compiled a collection of works in which authors draw a sharp contrast between the allure of the unknown down those steps and the terror of discovery when one reaches the bottom.
I applaud Bernard’s bold move on opening the collection with a poetry section. The selections are haunting and evocative. Theresa Newbill’s “Olive Branch” closes with the lines “an olive branch bearing fruit, not to be trusted; and thus highlights the disturbing juxtaposition of imagery through the anthology. Rose Blackthorn gives us “the dark has no end” in her selection “Beneath Yellow Roses.” The poets gently lure us into the seductive hush of the cellar.
The second portion, the flash fiction, sits hidden amidst the cobwebs of those dark corners. The poetry got us down those stairs. Now the flash fiction causes our breathing to intensify; our hearts to race with fear. Morgan Griffith, in “A Polished Poem,” says, “Not one of us was unaffected by the unnatural quiet and oppressive sense of foreboding.” The perfect imagery for those unseen terrors lurking just beyond our line of sight.
The final section, the short stories, tears the façade away to reveal the horrors within. Gregory Norris, in his story “Stray Cat,” tells us without hesitation that it is “out there.” We know it and there is nothing we can do. Tracy L. Carbone, in “Visions of a New York Loft,” asks, “But I’m safe now?” Quite simply, no you are not safe now.
Bernard has put together a great collection here. This is volume one and I look forward to future releases.