Above Ker-Is and Other Stories
by Evangeline Walton
Review by Mario Guslandi
Nodens Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780615598871
Date: 28 February 2012 List Price £9.33 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Especially known for her Mabinonian tetralogy, American author Evangeline Walton (1907-1996), recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, was also the author of a small number of short stories, some of which appeared in anthologies and magazines, some remained unpublished. Walton's literary agent and renown scholar Douglas A. Anderson has now assembled ten of the her fantasy stories in one elegant volume.
"Above Ker-Is" was previously appeared in the anthology Fantastic Imagination II (1980) and subsequently reprinted in The Year's Fantasy Stories #5. The story is an atmospheric tale of love and death, religion and sin, featuring an odd femme fatale linked to the secrets of the sea depths.
In "The Judgement of St Yves" (from Elsewhere Vol. I), an enticing piece of Breton folklore, a matter of jealousy arising between man and wife is submitted for a Saint's appraisal. While in the brief, delicate "The Ship from Away" (from Elsewhere Vol II) a ghost ship becomes the herald of a different, more meaningful and joyful life.
"The Mistress of Kaer-Mor" which first appeared in The Phoenix Tree (1980) and later on in Visions & Imaging: Classic Fantasy Fiction (1992) is a perceptive, quite disturbing exploration of the soul darkness, witchcraft and corruption portraying a woman that only death can save.
"At the End of the Corridor", first published in Weird Tales (1950), is a creepy tale about an undead sought for by a daring archeologist madly in love.
"They That Have Wings", posthumously published in 2011 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a masterpiece of terrible beauty depicting how three men seeking safety from war in the mountains meet two weird and hungry women.
The unpublished stories also contain some undiscovered gems. "Werwolf" is a great example of how to address a time honored horror theme with a literary touch, an elegant prose and an insightful view of people's ignorance and prejudices. "The Other One" is an outstanding, disquieting piece of pulp fiction featuring a mysterious, wicked female creature, partly a malevolent ghost, partly an unusual doppelganger.
The book is a delightful collection of charming, stylish fiction probing the darker side of the human condition. Not to be missed.